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By Patrick Mondout

On September 6, 1971, a PanInternational BAC One-Eleven lost power to both engines shortly after takeoff from Hamburg. The aircraft was forced to attempt a emergency landing on Hamburg-Kiel Autobahn (highway). The aircraft collided with a bridge, which caused both wings to be sheared off. The plane burst into flames.

Investigators later determined that the water-injection system used to cool the engines had been filled with kerosene instead of water. PanInternational, which was founded in 1970 by travel agency Paneuropa, ceased operations at the end of 1971.

A picture of this aircraft from before it crashed is here.

Source: ICAO Circular Aircraft Accident Digest.

Paninternational at a Glance
DateSeptember 6, 1971
Registration NumberD-ALAR
Crew Fatalities1 of 6
Passenger Fatalities21 of 115
Total Fatalities22 of 121

Air Safety References:
Bartelski, Jan. Disasters in the Air: Mysterious Air Disasters Explained. Airlife Publishing: England, 2001.
Beaty, David. The Naked Pilot: The Human Factor in Aircraft Accidents. Airlife Publishing: England, 1996.
Cushing, Steven. Fatal Words: Communication Clashes and Aircraft Crashes University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1997.
Faith, Nicholas. Black Box: The Air-Crash Detectives-Why Air Safety Is No Accident. Motorbooks International, 1997.
Gero, David. Aviation Disasters: The World's Major Civil Airliner Crashes Since 1950. Sutton, 2003.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 1). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1995.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 2). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1996.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 3). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1999.
Krause, Shari Stamford. Aircraft Safety: Accident Investigations, Analyses & Applications. McGraw Hill, New York, 1996.
Macpherson, Malcolm. The Black Box : All-New Cockpit Voice Recorder Accounts Of In-flight Accidents. New York: William Morrow, 1998.
Macpherson, Malcolm. On a Wing and a Prayer: Interviews with Airline Disaster Survivors. Perennial, 2002.
Owen, David. Air Accident Investigation, 2nd Edition. Motorbooks International, 2002.
Stewart, Stanley. Emergency! - Crisis on the Flight Deck, 2nd Edition. Airlife Publishing, England, 2003.
Walters, James M. Aircraft Accident Analysis: Final Reports. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2000.
Wells, Alexander T. Commercial Aviation Safety, 3rd Edition. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2001.


Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about this crash? Were you a witness? Have you any compelling stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"You may note that four Americans died who were passengers of the KLM plane. I had got to know the Gillis family fairly well as I had befriended there son Jim, who was not a passenger on the plane. Mr. and Mrs. Gillis and their son Jim came to The Netherlands because Mr. Gillis was transferred by Xerox in Rochester to Xerox in Venray, The Netherlands. I was an employee of Xerox and became good friends with Jim as his father had organized a job for him. Jim, who was about 20 at the time, had left a girlfriend and a little baby behind in the states (surname is Twist) who eventually came to The Netherlands to visit. Ms. Twist and baby were to stay for a couple of weeks and during this time Jim and his ex seemed to be getting everything back on track. Mr. and Mrs. Gillis took their daughter-in-law-to-be and granddaughter for a brief stay in the Canary Islands. Jim couldnít go because things were busy at Xerox. The rest is history. I informed Jim of the disaster and chaperoned him to the airport back to the U.S. a few days later never to hear from him again. I was wondering what I needed to do to try and contact him. I guess I am unsure whether he would like to hear from me because he may well associate his memory of me with everything else.I left Holland in 1981 and moved to Australia and at this point it has become a mission for me to try and locate him. Do you have any ideas?"

--John Ruyl (alexandjohn at bigpond dotcom dot au)

"I lost my grandmother & great aunt & great uncle in this crash. It was a Sunday and I lived in Detroit. My grandmother was from Canada & my anut & uncle were from CA. All were going on the cruise as mentioned. After hearing of the crash we went to my grandmother's house in Windsor, Ontario and saw a telegram from Western Union posted to her front door. It was from Pan Am, confirming that they had, indeed, checked in for their flight....My grandmother and aunt were never identified; my uncle was identified & had a funeral service in CA with the rest of the deceased. They are buried in a mass grave site in Westminister, CA."

--Robyn Caza-Vanderbrook

"Iam Ingrid de la Roy from the Netherlands, and I lost my both parents (Wiel and Annie de la Roy, 39/37 years old) at that crash. It hurts to see all this again, but I am happy too that like this way I become to know everything about what happend. I have maked a own map off all this, for my brothers too. So if you know or have (video-mpeg) material about this, please send this to us."

--Ingrid de la Roy (gerard.ingrid at

"I was 13-years old at that time. My family and myself lived in Las Palmas at that time. It was Sunday afternoon and I watched TV. First I remember the news about the bomb at the airport. The bomb was placed by Antonio Cubilloís terrorist, it was an organization based in Alger. They fought for the independence of Canary Island.
After the news the TV program continue normally, but suddenly they interrupted the program. The said it have happened a serious accident in Tenerife (I donít remember if they mentioned it was an airplane accident?), but they asked all hospital staff (doctors, nurses, paramedics) to interrupt their weekend leave, holidays and return to their positions at the hospitals immediately.
I realize then that something really serious have happened, because they said at the TV this several times.
Some days later I remember that they interviewed the Chief Doctor of Tenerife University Hospital. The Chief doctor said, "We have trained for this kind of disasters, but we coulndít believe that we really will get someday in one shot several hundreds of victims."
This is what I remember from this accident, I donít remember any pictures from TV or newspapers. For sure this Sunday afternoon in 1977 I remember forever."


"I was enroute to Amsterdam at the time of the crash in the Canary Islands. I also was on a KLM 747-Flight 644 from New York's Kennedy Airport. I had no idea that anything had happened until I arrived in Amsterdam and that is when I heard about the accident. My husband was frantic because my flight was 30 minutes late arriving. It was just a terrible accident, and my loved ones in the states were sure relieved when I called them to let them know that I had arrived safely."


"I was on holiday with my family on Tenerife when this accident happened. I was nine years old. I clearly remember the shocked, dazed attitude of the adults around me when we heard the news. I must confess to be being pretty ambivalent about it at the time. I believe their is still evidence of some wreckage at that particular airport (now rarely used) to this day. [Editor's note: It was in 1996 when one of the crew went back to Tenerife for a documentary I saw in 1997.]"

--Stephen Curry

"This accident occurred when I was in the sixth grade. My Aunt was a travel agent at the time and had recently visited the Canary Islands herself. She had dear friends on this flight who perished. I remember this event as the first disaster that seemed real to me. I remember writing a current event report on it in school. Seems small now in light of 9/11."


"My Grandfather, John Cooper, was was one of the survivors of the Pan Am / KLM air disaster. He was employed as a Pan Am engineer and was 'hitching a lift' aboard the flight. When flying he always carried a pocket shoe shine box as good luck, but ironically on this day he had left it behind. Thankfully I have had the chance to meet my grandfather due to his fortune on this day. I offer my condolences to those who have not been so fortunate."

--Emma Cooper

"For futher details about this crash, you may find the study of Karl Weick in Journal of Management Vol 16 nį3 (1990). He highlights some collective responsability in this crash, under cognitive arguments. "


"I was 9 years old, living in Switzerland but flying to Spain frequently to see my relatives as my mum's Spanish. I never understood why my mum was so frightened of flying until the day I picked up a magazine at my grandparents in Seville which had a full report on the disaster. It must have been a few days after the accident. The impact it had on me has stayed with me forever. I fly a lot, but every single time I fly I always, always think of the Tenerife collision. One of the most lasting, if not THE most lasting images I have is a full colour, two page spread of one male survivor of the PanAm, standing in front of the burning wreck, clothes in shreds, covered in blood which my grandparents had in their house at the time (it was in Interviu, a Spanish mag). Nearly 27 years on I still think of that man, want to know who he was, where he is. It's incredible how something like this, even though not personally involved, could have such a tremendous impact on me. My heart goes out to everybody who was personally affected by this tragedy by losing someone dear to them."




Airline: Paninternational

Location: Near Hasloh, West Germany

Aircraft: BAC 1-11 515FB

Date: September 6, 1971

Total Fatalities: 22 of 121

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