Tenerife: Deadliest Air Accident - THE CRASH

THE CRASH (Illustration) Famous Historical Events Geography History Social Studies Aviation & Space Exploration STEM Tragedies and Triumphs World History Disasters

This recreated image depicts KLM 4805 striking Pan Am 1736 while it is taxiing into position on Tenerife's Runway 30. Recreated computer-generated scene by NOVA, shown in its documentary "The Deadliest Plane Crash." Copyright NOVA, all rights reserved. Image provided here as fair use for educational purposes.


Crew members on board Pan American Flight 1736 flight deck were alarmed.

Pan Am Capt: Let’s get the h...out of here.

Pan Am First Officer: Yeh, he’s anxious, isn’t he.

Pan Am Flight Engineer: Yeh, after he held us up for an hour and a half...now he’s in a rush.

The words were barely out of the flight engineer’s mouth when Captain Grubbs saw a terrifying sight. Landing lights from another plane were coming straight at them.

Pan Am Capt: There he is...look at him...that...that son-of-a-b...is coming.

Pan Am First Officer: Get off! Get off! Get off!

Taking immediate evasive action, Captain Grubbs turned left and opened his throttles. Still not seeing the Pan Am 747, the KLM crew approached the point of no return as the jumbo jet accelerated toward disaster. Four seconds after First Officer Meurs called out "Vee one," (the go/no-go decision speed) the KLM crew realized what was about to happen.

Trying hard to avoid a disastrous collision, Captain van Zanten managed to get completely airborne as he neared exit C-4. He didn’t get high enough (the link depicts the plane’s approximate altitude at the point of impact) to avoid slamming into the starboard side of the turning Pan Am jet.

On impact, the upstairs lounge of the Pan Am jet disappeared. So did most of the top of the fuselage. (The link refers to aircraft registrations: KLM 4805 was PH-BUF [this is the actual plane in happier times] and Pan Am 1736 was N736PA.)

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Mar 25, 2015

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"THE CRASH" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 01, 2006. Jun 05, 2020.
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