KLM Flight 633-Crash into the Shannon river.

Nowadays boarding a plane is nearly as common as get on a train. Come to think of it I have been probably more on a plane then in a train.

However in 1954 flying was quite expensive and was only affordable for a few or after saving money for it for possibly year, especially for transatlantic flights.

KLM Flight 633 was a passenger flight from Amsterdam to New York City. I had stopped over in Shannon Airport, Ireland.

The KLM Super Constellation, named “Triton”, operated on the Amsterdam-New York route. A scheduled refueling stop was made at Shannon. The flight left Shannon Terminal Building at 02:30 hours at night and taxied to runway 14 (5643 feet long). The before takeoff run-up was completed in takeoff position.

Takeoff was made at 02:38.on September 5,1954. V1 speed was reached at 3500 feet and lift-off at 125 knots was made just over the V2 speed at approximately 4000 feet from threshold. The flight then passed over the remaining 1600 feet of runway in a shallow climb, retracting its landing gear. The Constellation entered a shallow descent over the River Shannon. The duration of the flight was about 31 seconds from the time it passed over the end of the runway until the aircraft first contacted the water in a tail-down slightly right-wing low attitude. It came to rest on the Middle Ground, a shallow mudbank 8170 feet from the end of the runway, after losing engines no. 3 and 4.

The Lockheed Super Constellation Triton (registration PH-LKY[1]) was piloted by Adriaan Viruly, one of the airline’s most senior pilots. After a refuelling stop at Shannon, the plane took off for the transatlantic leg of the flight at 02:38. There were 46 passengers and ten crew on board. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reduced power from maximum to METO (Maximum Except Take Off). The pilot was unaware that the landing gear was not retracted, and as result the aircraft descended to touch down in the Shannon estuary. It turned around on impact and broke into two sections.

The aircraft was partially submerged, and at least one of the fuel tanks had ruptured during the crash. The fuel fumes rendered many passengers and crew unconscious, who then drowned in the rising tide. In the end, three crew-members (all the cabin crew) and 25 passengers perished.

Even though the crash occurred less than one minute after the plane took off from Shannon Airport, airport authorities remained unaware of the disaster until the mud-caked third pilot (navigator) of the craft, Johan Tieman, stumbled into the airport and reported, “We’ve crashed!” That was 2½ hours after the plane fell. Mr. Tieman had swum ashore and floundered painfully across the marshes to the airport, whose lights were clearly visible from the scene of the crash. It was not until 7 o’clock in the morning – 4½ hours after the crash – that the first launch reached the survivors, who were huddled on a muddy flat in the river.

The official investigation concluded that the accident was caused by an unexpected re-extension of the landing gear and the captain’s incorrect behaviour in this situation. Viruly, who had been only one year from retirement, rejected the responsibility for the crash and was bitter about his subsequent treatment by KLM. In an interview he later stated that there simply had not been enough time to react.

source

https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19540905-0

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