The image which appears below was contributed by Roxanne Loget and is a tribute to her best friend, Marianne Ambrey, who was a trainee flight attendant with Pan Am and was killed in the crash of Pan Am Flight 217.

The main write up regarding that crash and those who lost their lives appears on this link.

Tribute to Marianne Ambrey

I am also adding Roxanne’s comment from last year when she shared some memories and thoughts about Marianne:

“I will forever remember the first time we met In August 1967 or 68. I had JUST moved in…or maybe SHE had just moved in… to a shared room in The Lodge, a Victorian mansion turned into a boarding house at the corner of Sutter & Lombard in San Francisco (still there). It was a Sunday night, about 10 p.m. when all of a sudden, a whirlwind of fun blew into the room, flopped down on MY bed & declared: “Ohhhhhhhh. I had the most diVINE weekend. i fell in love….THREE times!” and we were instant BFs.

We were both 22 and blazed a trail through The City’s nightlife like 2 comets joined at the hip. She was stunningly beautiful and SO friendly & SO much fun to be with…the very personification of joie de vie. Her dream job was to be a Pan Am Stew, as we used to say back in the day. She claimed to know just a bit of French (even though she grew up in Ottawa) and hope, hope, hoped that it would be enough for her to pass Pan Am’s test. Yes, she was all atwitter, positively jiggling with excitement & nervous anticipation and, yes, of course, she passed. Then, all of a sudden, she received her “orders” to report to Miami for Stew School and she was madly packing her bags. Her last night with us. I was helping her cram the last bag full & zip it up when … OH NO … the zipper BROKE. Of course! WHAT was she going to do? No problem…here, use one of mine. So we transferred all her clothes into my ratty old suitcase and WOOOOSH she was gone.

We received 2 postcards from her. One said that she was now wearing THREE layers of makeup, one of which was green (!) and that on a face which never needed more than a bit of mascara and lipstick. And the other postcard said that she was SO excited… she was going on her first training flight after which she would “get her wings” and it was to CARACAS!!!!

On Friday, the 13th of December, 1968, i got a call at work from a friend who said, “Are you sitting down?” And my life was never ever again full of joie de vie. I was stunned into a deep mourning and bottomless depression. Somebody arranged a memorial service at SF’s iconic Grace Cathedral and that helped somewhat. All the young men & young women at The Lodge were stunned. Many would gravely, silently approach me & hand me a few dollars to send to her family, which i did; it was a very small amount, maybe $35 or $55 if i remember accurately. 2 or 3 months later, my empty battered, blue suitcase arrived via Postman from Pan Am, Miami, without any note or explanation or anything… just an empty suitcase. That was a particularly awful moment.

A year later, i met a Pan Am pilot at a New Year’s Eve party in Lake Tahoe & he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell me anything except that no one knows exactly what happened, that there were few bodies recovered because of the shark infested waters & the bodies that were found were of people who were still strapped into their seats. And now, today, marks 48 years since that dreadul moment and i still have questions. What time, exactly, did it happen? Does anyone know? I’m sure it was sabotage and i still want to know why. Who needed to do that? Was it an act of suicide or political assassination?

Actually, i have never really gotten over it and i’m 70 years old, now and nearly every day when i look out at the Pacific Ocean from my hillside home–sometimes mentally & sometimes out loud– i say “Hi, Marianne. I miss you.”

One Response to “Remembering Marianne Ambrey”

  1. Tulio says:

    Hello All:

    – Just wanted to thank for documenting this event in such human and sensitive way!

    – I was 8 years old when this plane crashed in my country and I still vividly remember news about it, more so because of my early love for airplanes and admiration for those beautiful jets that used to land in Maiquetia/Simon Bolivar International airport in Venezuela.

    – There has been a lot of speculation about the causes of this crash, all the way from onboard explosives to crew unrest and so on.. being the official “Probable Cause” : Optical Landing Illusion.

    – A pilot myself – Private – with extensive knowledge of Commercial aircraft operations, and landed in that airport several times in the cockpit of commercial airplanes – Jump Seat – at night, I can understand a pilot can get somewhat confused with the “Up Slope Highway lights ” going to Caracas but not flying a plane to the surface of the sea. Specially at night on approach in “Instrumental Conditions” even though when they could see the airport on a clear night the approach would be following the instruments not looking outside the front window!! something very serious must have happened for an experienced crew , who must have been looking at Airspeed and altitude on a dark background under them, without runway landing lights.. to settle such large airplane on the surface of the ocean willingly….

    – Crash area is very deep indeed and it seems that most of the airplane sank with the rest of the passengers inside.. there must be several reasons (I Presume Mainly Technical/Costs and so on) for the U.S authorities (FAA, NTSB, FBI) , the airline.. not to pursue rescuing the wreckage and passenger remains… considering similar airplane accidents of the era.. but I’m sure that if those authorities suspected or had some elements of sabotage,, in my opinion …they would have investigated further mainly because of the regional political times and the flight’s origin (NY)…did not ever hear that recover passenger bodies showed signs of being exposed to explosives.. or anything of the kind. Most of the information on the accident was on the media,, mainly paper, and they where “Scandalous” so I figure information like that would have filtered out to the public…I’m sure that the airline had to do a lot of explaining to relatives, insurance companies and so on..

    – Cause of crash PA 217 remains unclear to this day, at least for us a general public.. no way any common citizen can get a Venezuelan aeronautical authority to show official file ,, not then not now.. anyways…. about Black boxes… the Boeing 707 where equipped with first generation black boxes although I did not ever hear flight PA 217 where ever recovered.

    In closing,, thank you all again for this exceptional site, a well deserved tribute to those lives! always remembered, always alive in our hearts!

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