KLM Constellation Air Disaster

Take-off from Schiphol was planned at 20:00 on 20 October 1948 for a flight to New York via Prestwick, with as alternative Shannon, Ireland.

The Constellation PH-TEN Nijmegen, with thirty passengers aboard, carried enough fuel to return to Amsterdam after such a diversion. Weather for Prestwick was bad, but improving, according to the forecast; in actual fact, conditions were deteriorating. Take-off was delayed to 21:10 while additional cargo was loaded for Iceland, with an extra stop planned. Because of this delay, the wireless operator missed (by five minutes) a Prestwick radio message advising of rain and a 600 feet cloud base.

Under these conditions, in combination with a 20 knot cross-wind on the main runway, KLM-pilots were forbidden to land at Prestwick, instructions drafted by chief pilot Parmentier himself.

Lockheed Constellation "Nijmegen" departed Amsterdam at 21:11 GMT for a transatlantic flight to New York with an intermediate stop at Prestwick. Arriving near Prestwick the aircraft was vectored for a Ground Controlled Approach to runway 32. Thee crew however wanted to try a visual approach to runway 26. After having overshot runway 32, the aircraft entered the runway 26 downwind leg. At an altitude of 440 feet the aircraft struck high tension cables; the aircraft caught fire and completed a left turn before crashing.

A KLM Lockheed L-049 Constellation airliner (named Nijmegen and registered PH-TEN) crashed into high ground near Prestwick, Scotland, on 20 October 1948, killing all 40 aboard. A subsequent inquiry found that the accident was likely caused by the crew's reliance on a combination of erroneous charts and incomplete weather forecasts, causing the crew to become distracted and disoriented in the inclement conditions.