A MOVING ceremony was held in the Caribbean last week - paying tribute to Knowle pilot Robert Mansell.
Hundreds of people turned out at the Curacao International Airport, before the 32-year-old’s body was flown home.
Eric Hagedoorn was one of the Dutchmen who survived the plane crash which claimed Mr Mansell’s life.
At the ceremony he read a letter, paying tribute to the pilot’s quick thinking - which had saved the lives of all nine passengers on board.
“Robert, I want you to know that I am grateful that I can see you are on your way to your final rest place in England,” said the survivor.
“That was the least we could do for you.”
Emily de Jongh-Elhage, Prime Minister for the Netherland Antilles, where the crash took place, was among others to speak at the ceremony.
A coffin draped with the Union Jack was carried onto the waiting Boeing 747. The body was then flown back to Britain, with the plane touching down at Birmingham International Airport - where Mr Mansell’s family were waiting.
Since the tragedy in October, efforts had been made to raise the aircraft from the ocean bed and recover Mr Mansell’s body. A special ship was finally brought in to raise the plane and the operation was completed this month.
Aviation experts are now probing the cause of the tragedy.