(ORDO NEWS) — Two large Boeing 747s collided and caught fire on a foggy airport runway in the Canary Islands. It was the worst disaster in aviation history. What happened in this ill-fated lane?
On March 27, 1977, two Boeing 747s crashed into each other on the runway of an airport in the Canary Islands, killing 583 people. The Boeing 747s were charter aircraft that were not supposed to be at Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife on that day.
However, since then a terrorist attack occurred at the Gran Canaria airport, it was closed and all work was temporarily suspended.
Thus, a Pan Am charter carrying passengers from Los Angeles and New York on a Mediterranean cruise and a KLM charter with Dutch tourists were redirected to Los Rodeos Airport. In a matter of seconds, the airport was occupied by airliners.
Fortunately, or, as it turned out later, unfortunately, Gran Canaria resumed its work after 4 hours of waiting and the crews left Los Rodeos. On a typical foggy afternoon, the KLM plane was released to taxi to the end of the only main runway.
The Pan Am aircraft was following him and had to wait in the side space for the KLM aircraft to turn around to begin takeoff. However, in the fog, the Pan Am pilot was unable to keep the KLM aircraft in sight and did not get into position.
The Dutch crew of the KLM aircraft, apparently unable to understand the accented English spoken by the controllers, began to take off down the runway before the Pan Am aircraft could move into the side space.
At the last minute, the Pan Am pilot saw another 747 flying straight at him and tried to swerve into the field. However, it was already too late.
The KLM 747 crashed into the side of the Pan Am plane, and both liners turned into a huge fireball. The only survivors on both planes were those in the very front of Pan Am 747: 61 passengers managed to survive.
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