Judy Dyson was only five when her mother, Canberra nurse Bernice Ford, perished in a plane crash at Botany Bay 50 years ago this Wednesday.
An Ansett-ANA Vickers Viscount en route to Canberra on November 30, 1961 had hit a violent thunderstorm, lost a wing and pitched into the dark waters of the bay.
It was a terrible day for Canberra - nine of the 11 passengers who perished were leading citizens of the still-young national capital - and a turning point for aviation safety in Australia. The four crew also died.
Among those who perished were leading obstetrician Jeffrey Harrington, army major James Gaylard, businessman Albert Soukieh and senior public servant David Shaw.
Inquiries into the crash - including investigations by Frank Yeend, now 88 and living in Pearce - would lead to weather radars becoming mandatory on airliners.
Mrs Dyson, now 55 and living in Melbourne, says she still remembers her mother leaving their home in O'Connor for Sydney where she was recieving medical treatment.
"I can remember her saying goodbye to me under the carport," she said.
Mrs Dyson can also recall some of the aftermath when news of the plane crash flashed around the nation and the death of her mother had been confirmed.
''We had a housekeeper at the time and I remember her crying and carrying armfuls of flowers,'' she said.
Bernice Ford, apart from the air hostesses, was the only female passenger on board the flight, the last one out of Sydney for the night, taking off just after 7pm.
She was the oldest of nine children of Lucy and Vincent De Dassel, who ran a general store at the Ainslie hostel. Just 28, she was married to a local doctor, Bruce Ford.
Three of her siblings still live in Canberra - Aileen Bernroider of Lyons, Bill De Dassel of O'Connor and Marie McKie of Melba.
Mrs McKie said her sister's fate was sealed when she swapped tickets with someone who wanted to get on to another flight.
''She was a very gregarious, outgoing, loving person and extremely generous,'' she said.
''Bernice and our [late] parents live on in our memories all the time, they never go away.''
Dr Harrington was meant to take an earlier flight but changed his booking to take his mother to dinner, The Canberra Times reported at the time. His wife was waiting for him to take her to a nurses' ball.
Retired obstetrician John Hehir knew Dr Harrington well and waited with Mrs Harrington at their home in Deakin after the crash.
''He was a wonderful fellow, a very good obstetrician,'' Dr Hehir said yesterday. ''He was a very great loss to this town.''
Mr Yeend was an officer of the air safety investigation branch of the Department of Civil Aviation then based in Melbourne when he was put in charge of the operations side of the inquiry into the crash. He had to piece together what happened in the days before flight data and cockpit voice recorders.
Speaking from his home in Pearce yesterday, Mr Yeend said he felt the weight of responsibility very keenly, the crash grabbing national attention.
''I had an immediate team of 20 to 25 people who went out on a door-knock around Botany Bay. We covered the whole area. 'Did you hear anything?'. 'Did you see anything?','' he said.
The wreckage was recovered by navy clearance divers and their heavy-lift vessel, HMAS Kimbla.
Violent storms had lashed Sydney but the airport itself was relatively clear of cloud and rain when VH-TVC taxied for departure. But, as it turned out, the plane had taken off between thunderstorms, which were actually perilously close together.
Mr Yeend said it was entirely the decision of the captain, not the control tower, about whether the flight should proceed or not.
''And obviously the captain decided to go,'' he said.
The crash led to weather radars becoming mandatory for airliners. ''It had been debated and discussed for some time in aviation circles before this accident put the sealer on it,'' he said.
Mr Yeend said investigators never found out what caused the accident ''in the true sense of the word''.
''My truthful answer is, 'I don't know, but I can make an intelligent guess'. And that is it was flown into an area which should have been avoided because of the fact there was this weather,'' he said.
Aviation writer Macarthur Job said it was the first fatal accident involving an Ansett-ANA aircraft in 25 years.
''The only explanation appeared to lie with the violent weather. Indeed, the 29,000 tonne P&O Orient liner Orcades, Sydney-bound off the coast at the time, was battered by a sudden fierce storm soon after receiving a radio message to keep a lookout for wreckage of the missing Viscount. The ship's master said it was the first time he had experienced that type of weather in these waters','' he wrote in Aeroplane magazine.
Mr Job said the crash did lead to ''the final 'missing link' in electronic navigation aids necessary for the safe of conduct of all-weather airline operations''.
But speaking to The Canberra Times this week, Mr Job said there was signs of danger on the night.
''Other aircraft were coming and going and reporting very severe turbulence. I think in retrospect, it would have been better to close the airport but everyone is wiser in hindsight,'' he said.
Mrs Dyson, who has four sons of her own, says she takes comfort reading letters her mother wrote to home when she was at boarding school.
''It's like she's talking to you, really. I know she was a fabulous person. She had a lot of love.''