Tenerife - KLM 4805 Collides with Pan Am 1736

Tenerife - KLM 4805 Collides with Pan Am 1736 Famous Historical Events Aviation & Space Exploration Geography Social Studies STEM World History Disasters

Based on the investigation of the Tenerife disaster, this image recreates the moment when KLM 4805 struck the starboard side of Pan Am Flight 1736. 

Three decades after the world's deadliest aircraft accident, Robert Bragg (Pan Am's First Officer) recalls what happened when he first realized that a collision was about to occur between the two Boeing 747s:

As we were turning left, I looked back to my right out of the cockpit’s right hand window. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – that the KLM B-747 was actually taking off. In a second or two, the KLM plane had rotated and the entire fuselage had lifted off the runway. The last thing I remember seeing was the red rotating beacon on the bottom of the fuselage.

I ducked, closed my eyes, and prayed, "God, let him miss us…" When it did hit our plane, it was only a very short, quiet shudder. I actually thought that he had, in fact, missed us – until I opened my eyes. The first thing I noticed was that all of the windows in the cockpit windshield were completely and totally gone. I looked to the right and saw that the right wing was totally engulfed in flames.

I looked to the left and saw that the entire upstairs lounge and its 28 passengers were gone. The cockpit floor and upstairs lounge floor were also gone. I could see all of the way to the very rear of the cabin of the plane. I have always thought that it looked as if someone with a giant knife had simply cut the entire top of the cabin off.

I immediately looked and reached up to pull the fire-control handles which shut down the engines in addition to accomplishing several other functions. After I noticed that the entire top of the cockpit was missing, I reached down and shut off all four of the engines’ start levers. Nothing happened. The engines were operating at full throttle prior to our being hit, and they continued to operate the same way after the impact – at full power.

I again started yelling, "Get out, get out!"  (Bragg interview in the September-October 2007 issue of Flight Safety Australia, at page 46.)

After impact, the KLM plane flew another 150 meters before it slammed into the ground.  Because it was carrying so much fuel (fifty-five tons), it exploded in flames.  No one on board the flight had a chance to survive.

Robert Bragg tells us what he saw after the collision:

After KLM hit us, he went on down the runway, and hit on the runway 1,500 feet down, closer to the tower, so when the fire truck and the ambulance came out, they got to him first.

Because of the dense fog, fire and rescue personnel at Tenerife had no idea two planes were involved in the disaster.  It took about twenty minutes before anyone on the Pan Am plane received help.

See, also:

Instructions to Turn Off the Active Runway

Transcript from Cockpit Voice Recorder (ending with scream)

Fire and Suffocation at Tenerife

Media Credits

Recreation image, courtesy J. van der Meer and M. Keller, Boeing 747 (a Dutch-language web site).


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Tenerife - KLM 4805 Collides with Pan Am 1736" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Dec 13, 2019.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips