FAB Crewmembers Commemorate Flight 6560 Anniversary

Friends, relatives, and colleagues celebrated the lives of the crew of First Air Flight 6560 yesterday, a year to the day after the First Air Boeing 737 crashed into a hill in the far northern hamlet of Resolute.

The crash on August 20, 2011 took the lives of 12 of the 15 souls on board, including pilots Blair Rutherford and Dave Hare, and flight attendants Ute Merritt and Ann Marie Chassie. The Flight 6560 crew was remembered at a private memorial service in the First Air hangar in Yellowknife, NT, where the lost crewmembers were well-known in northern Canada’s close-knit aviation community.

Speaking at the service, FAB MEC Chairman Devin Lyall and Capt. Rutherford’s widow Tatiana agreed that the common denominator that linked the Flight 6560 crew was happiness—for their families, their colleagues, and their airline.

Family members joined pilots in flight suits, mechanics in coveralls, and managers in suits and ties to stand silently and hold hands at 10:42 a.m., the moment the Boeing 737 was lost. The moment of silence was observed across the entire First Air network—from Iqaluit in the east to Inuvik in the west.

Among the guests at the service were ALPA president Capt. Lee Moak, who was in the Northwest Territories taking a series of orientation flights with crews from First Air and Canadian North, and Robin Wyllie, a geologist who was one of three survivors of the accident. Wyllie was also a guest of the FAB MEC at an MEC family barbecue held in a local park after the ceremony.

Council 241 chairman Capt. Brad Avery piloted a First Air charter to the remote Resolute Airport after the service so that relatives of the victims could view the crash site and the new, permanent memorial to Flight 6560. Plans are also under way to build a memorial at the Yellowknife airport, where Flight 6560 originated.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada continues its investigation of the Flight 6560 crash.