Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 09:00 UK

Memorial flight marks crash date

Roger Keen
Mr Keen only learned to fly in the last two years

A newly-qualified pilot whose father and grandmother died in an air crash 35 years ago has flown a small plane to Switzerland to mark the anniversary.

Roger Keen's relatives were among 108 people killed when a charter plane on a day trip from Bristol to Basle crashed into a mountainside during a blizzard.

Most victims were from the Somerset town of Axbridge and nearby villages, many of them mothers of young children.

Carpenter Mr Keen, 49, laid flowers by the memorial at the forest crash site.

He said he wanted to pay a personal tribute by completing the flight which was never finished by his father Roy Keen and his grandmother Louisa Davis.

'Snow-capped mountains'

Mr Keen, who was a 14-year-old schoolboy living in Cheddar when the tragedy happened on 10 April 1973, took off from an airfield at Dunkeswell on the Devon-Somerset border.

He landed on the main runway at EuroAirport, the only bi-national airport in the world with direct access to three countries - France, Germany and Switzerland.

He said: "Coming in to land you could see the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Same runway, same direction - it all added to the sense of completion.

"I had no idea what the memorial would be like and I wanted to see it and leave some flowers. It felt like a laying to rest."

Mr Keen, who now lives in Highbridge, had never been at the controls of his plane abroad before so he was accompanied on the trip by Daniel Granger, 20, from Bridgwater, an RAF pilot home on leave.

Watch the journey on BBC One in the West at 1930 BST on 11 April 2008. Viewers outside the region can view the programme on BBC iPlayer or on Sky digital satellite channel 986.


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