On this day March 27, 1977

Two Boeing 747 airliners collide on a foggy runway on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, killing 583 (all 248 on KLM and 335 on Pan Am). 61 survived on the Pan Am flight.

ten1The collision took place on March 27, 1977, at 17:06:56 local time.

The aircraft involved were the 747s of Pan Am Flight 1736 (the Clipper Victor) under the command of Captain Victor Grubbs, and KLM Flight 4805 (the Rijn) under the command of Captain Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten. Taking off on the airport’s only runway, the KLM flight crashed into the Pan Am aircraft taxiing on the runway in the opposite direction.

For both planes, Tenerife was an unscheduled stop. Their destination was Gran Canaria International Airport (also known as Las Palmas airport), serving Las Palmas on the nearby island of Gran Canaria. Both are in the Canary Islands, an autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Morocco.

Pan Am Flight 1736 had taken off from Los Angeles International Airport with an intermediate stop at New York‘s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The aircraft was a Boeing 747-121, registration N736PA. Of the 380 passengers, 14 had boarded in New York City. The crew was changed at New York. The new captain was Victor Grubbs, and the first officer (“co-pilot”) was Robert Bragg. There were 14 other crew members. The airplane was Pan Am’s first Boeing 747 (ex Clipper Young America).

KLM Flight 4805, a charter flight for Holland International Travel Group from the Netherlands, had taken off four hours before from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Its captain was Jacob van Zanten and the first officer was Klaas Meurs.

The aircraft was a Boeing 747-206B, registration PH-BUF. The KLM had 235 passengers and 14 crew members. Among the passengers were 48 children and 3 infants. Most of the KLM passengers were Dutch; four Germans, two Austrians, and two Americans were also on the plane. After the aircraft landed at Tenerife, a tour guide named Robina van Lanschot, who lived on the island in Puerto de la Cruz and wanted to see her boyfriend that night, elected not to reboard the 747, leaving 234 passengers on board.


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