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The Tenerife crash - March 27th, 1977

The PanAm crew set full throttle to leave the runway as quickly as possible, but it was too late. The KLM captain spotted the PanAm jumbo jet on the runway:

17 :06 :47 (KLM captain) – Oh shit

Computer-generated portrayal of collision between both Boeing 747
Computer-generated portrayal of collision between both Boeing 747

Photo of the Tenerife crash The speed of the Dutch 747 was over 270 km/h. The captain applied full back stick pressure in order to take off and fly over the other 747. The nose climbed, the tail struck the runway, producing sparks. The aircraft climbed one meter above ground, but this wasn't enough.

The 350-tonne giants collided. The forward landing gear wheels of the Dutch 747 struck the right side of the PanAm 747, tearing the fuselage. The left wing cut the vertical stabilizer at rudder level. Passengers saw partitions open, the ceiling disappear and the floor collapse. Right wing fuel tanks were torn apart and fuel started igniting.

The KLM 747 had risen slightly but it had become completely dislocated and it crashed. There were no survivors.

In the PanAm 747, a few people escaped from the burning plane. Some 64 people, including the captain and everybody on the flight deck, survived, out of 396. The heat produced by the fire cleared the fog one kilometer around the crash scene.

Some 583 people died in the crash. 64 people survived.

Photo of the Tenerife crash

Photo of the Tenerife crash

Photo of the Tenerife crash shot minutes after the disaster

Wreckage of the KLM 747   Wreckage of the KLM 747
Wreckage of the KLM 747