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The Flying Dutchman

KLM Super Constellation Triton
crash at Shannon in 1954.

Viruly in the captain's seat
(that's left) of a Super Constellation

Captain Viruly
With Parmentier one of the first KLM pilots and another pioneer on the Amsterdam-Batavia route; like Air France's Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and American Airlines' Ernest K. Gann a writer. Jan de Hartog wrote an introduction to his book Kunst en Vliegwerk. It's almost funny how Jan de Hartog carefully avoids any comment on Viruly's writing style, but, also: how like him) does tell some rattling good stories about their time in Wartime England. De Hartog himself had escaped from Nazi-occupied Holland by a dangerous trip to Spain, described in De Vlucht; another KLM writer, Willem van Veenendaal, had to row across Waal river to reach the Allies; while Viruly managed to travel leisurely North by train, with German safe-conduct documents in his pocket.
Like de Hartog, Viruly was a pacifist and often got himself into trouble with the militarist KLM top. What I feel is one of Jan de Hartog's finest books, The Captain, uses that very militarism as a main plot structure element.

The story on many troubles within KLM with its headstrong director Albert Plesman, because of this military stance,
which caused many fine men of the first hour to leave in disgust, still has to be researched and written. Nevertheless, Viruly succeeded Parmentier of the Nijmegen crash as KLM's chief pilot; which was his function when he crashed the Triton.

The Crash
It wasn't easy to collect info on this. Maybe understandably, but I still think foolishly, KLM shuts up like a clam when you ask them about any accidents. Are they hoping we will believe they never happened by them pretending so? Must be an inheritance from their militarist beginnings.
Like Nijmegen, Lockheed Super Constellation PH-LKY Triton was on a flight Amsterdam-New York with 46 passengers and a crew of 10 aboard. On September 5, 1954, the aircraft made a planned refueling stop at Shannon, Ireland on flight number 633. Take-off from there was at 02:30.


Some 35-40 seconds after take-off, the Triton crashed on the mud flats in the Shannon River, about 2500m from the end of the runway.
Nobody at Shannon Airport had an idea the crash had occurred when navigator Tieman staggered into the terminal building covered with mud, after having crossed water and mud flats. It was only then that rescue operations started.
The aircraft was partly submerged, with the cabin filled with fuel fumes, which caused those passengers still in it to become unconscious, and drown in the incoming tide.
As usual, some ass tried to light a cigarette which a fellow passenger, miss Elizabeth Snijder (spelled as Snider or Snyder in reports) knocked out of his mouth or we would have been blown to bits, as Viruly commented. 25 passengers and 3 crew members were killed.
Three weeks later the Limerick and District Branch of the National Union of Journalists condemned false and malicious reports in foreign newspapers about the crash which cast a slur on Shannon. It's hard to understand what they can have meant by this. It seems obvious that, had airport tower personnel taken the trouble to watch the aircraft for less than a minute after take-off, they could not have missed seeing the crash, probably saving many lives. They must have been a carefree lot: Nor was any notice taken of absence of any radio messages from the Triton.
An investigative board later gave as PROBABLE CAUSE:
1) Failure of the captain to correlate and interpret his instrument indications properly during flap retraction, resulting in necessary action not being taken in sufficient time. This failure was partially accounted for by the effect on instrument indications of inadvertent and unexpected gear re-extension.
2) Loss of aircraft performance due to inadvertent landing gear re-extension.
3) The captain failed to maintain sufficient climb to give him an opportunity of meeting unexpected occurrences.

Viruly, who was only a year from being pensioned, was devastated by the accident and very bitter about his subsequent treatment by KLM. But one can only conclude from what is known now, that this captain, one of KLM's most experienced flyers, had been sadly remiss in the handling of the aircraft under his command. Aided and abetted by the lackadaisical tower personnel, this resulted in the loss of, not only a brand-new aircraft with less than 2500 hours of operation, but also that of 28 human lives.

The Ghoul Trade
envelope offered on internet for $80

In 1948 KLM's chief pilot Parmentier crashed Constellation Nijmegen at Prestwick, Scotland.
The 1957 Neutron crash at Biak, West Papua was a disaster and a disgrace.

How Loftleidir almost killed me.

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