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On This Day… The Worst Disaster In Aviation History!

Written by: George Chittenden : 09 Jul 2019

It was on this day, 27th March, back in 1977 when the worst disaster in aviation history happened, costing the lives of 583 people. The disaster occurred when two Boeing 747 passenger jets collided, but not in mid-air, they crashed into each other on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife. The planes were Pan Am Flight 1736 and KLM Flight 4805.

The disaster happened so quickly, one survivor said, that the Pan Am jet was reduced to ashes within five minutes. So, how can two planes crash whilst taxiing? Well, both planes had been diverted to Los Rodeos after a terrorist incident at Gran Canaria Airport. Unfortunately, the airport became congested and thick fog began drifting across the runways, which seriously affected visibility.

The moment of impact

The moment of impact

The KLM 4805 was attempting to take off, which was a mistake. The Captain believed he had been given clearance from air traffic control and taxied onto the runway where Pan Am 1736 was still taxiing. KLM admitted it was their crew who were responsible for the accident and agreed to financially compensate the victims' relatives.

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