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40 years since Tenerife disaster

Posted: March 27th, 2017, 4:54 pm
by V Williamson
For those old enough to remember, and others interested, today 27th March 2017 is 40 years since two Boeing 747's collided at Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

The "unthinkable" occurred when the Captain of a KLM 747 aircraft began a takeoff roll before clearance was obtained. In low visibility fog, a Pan Am 747 was "backtracking" (taxiing) along the main runway as per original Control Tower instructions. The Pan Am tried to get out of the way, the KLM tried to takeoff and "leapfrog" the Pan Am, but the result was 583 fatalities in the - to date - world's worst air disaster. There were 61 survivors, amongst whom were the flight deck crew (Captain, co-pilot and flight engineer) of the Pan Am. All three have since passed on, the co-pilot, Robert Bragg, just on the 9th February - a few weeks back - at age 79. The Wikipedia article on this incident may be found at For those further interested in Tenerife, Captain Bragg detailed his experiences of the day and aftermath at .

There was a near similar incident at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport on 29th January, 1971 (one wet night) when a TAA Sydney - Perth Boeing 727 took the tailfin off a Canadian Pacific Douglas DC8 which had just landed and was backtracking (taxiing) along the runway in error. The 727 suffered under gear damage and landed safely a little afterwards.

I don't know if there is any memorial service in the Canary Islands today or tomorrow. Vale N736PA and PH-BUF.

Re: 40 years since Tenerife disaster

Posted: March 27th, 2017, 5:28 pm
by BigDutchy
I remember this clearly. I was still living in Holland. There where a fair few Dutchies
killed in that accident. It was non stop on TV for days.