Monday, April 2, 2012

The Tenerife Air Disaster - 35 Years on The Fascination Continues.

One of the pleasures of blogging is the surprises it brings. While I tend to focus on science, metaphysics and other "esoterica" like Ufology, near death experiences and the supernatural; what some might call "weird science", or "fringe science" (I like to explore "unconventional" ideas), my blogs on aircraft crashes have received the most hits, and have ranked in the top ten in Google searches. This isn't because of any ingenuity or uniqueness on my part. Indeed, I didn't produce nor do I own the copyright to these videos, and they could be removed at anytime. So I'm not an innovator, but a "repeater".

Having acknowledged that, and the fact that there's still a huge public fascination with "man-made" disasters (witness "Titanic fever" as April 14-15 nears; the 100th "anniversary" of the sinking of the Titanic), and in deference to other posters who've brought these videos to the public, I thought readers might be interested in the following absorbing documentary on "The Crash of The Century".

What's so fascinating about the Tenerife disaster in particular, are the almost eerie circumstances that lead to the deaths of 583 people. An air traffic diversion because of a bomb threat; air traffic congestion at the small Los Rodeos airport, not used to such a volume of traffic; the KLM captain's decision to refuel (which would ensure everyone on board perished in the flames); the Pan Am's (parked behind the KLM) inability to maneuver its wing-span around the KLM by just 12 feet; sudden deteriorating weather conditions with fast descending low-lying clouds only minutes before ATC (Air Traffic Control) clearance for all stranded aircraft to leave Los Rodeos; the misunderstanding between ATC and the Pan Am on which taxiway to exit (caused by "mutual interference" on the radio frequency); and last but not least, the KLM captain's impatience and decision (because of KLM rules and deadlines, which could leave them stranded in Tenerife overnight) to override ATC instructions, and the desperate plea of his co-pilot that they did not have ATC clearance to take off. Speeding down the runway with the 747's engines at full thrust, and with very limited visibility, there was now no option for the KLM once the Pan Am came into sight through the misty runway - get over the Pan Am, or crash into it. The rest is history.


  1. I was 15 and living in Las Palmas when the accident happened and it was a night of horror. I have always thought there was something "floating" over this terrible accident which made it different from others and not only for the dreadful number of casualties. In one documentary a retired air disaster investigator said that in all his long career he had never seen such doom in a sequence of events leading to an accident. He had counted the unparalleled amount of 12 events in this one (when the average seems to be 3-6) and had only one of them failed to occur the crash would have not taken place. But it was not meant to be the case. As you well say,....eerie.

  2. Thanks for your interesting contribution.