KLM Flight 633 was a passenger flight from Amsterdam to New York City. On September 5, 1954, immediately after takeoff from Shannon Airport, the plane ditched on a mudbank in the River Shannon. 28 people were killed in the accident.
The Lockheed Super Constellation Triton
(registration PH-LKY) was piloted by Adriaan Viruly, one of the
airline's most senior pilots. After a refueling stop at Shannon, the
plane took off for the transatlantic leg of the flight at about 02:30.
There were 46 passengers and 10 crew on board.
Less than a minute after takeoff, the aircraft crashed into a mudbank
of the river. Although the crash site was only about 2500 metres from
the airport, no one was aware of the disaster. Rescue operations were
only started after the plane's navigator escaped the wreck, got back to
the shore and managed to reach the airport.
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, 3 crewmembers and 25 passengers perished.
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.