“It’s not what you tell them...it’s what they hear.”
—Arnold “Red” Auerbach
On March 27, 1977 five hundred eighty-three people died in the worst accident in aviation history. Two Boeing 747 planes collided that day at Los Rodeos Airport on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. KLM Flight 4805 originated from Amsterdam, and Pan Am Flight 1736 had begun in Los Angeles. Each plane intended to land at Las Palmas, the larger of the two airports in the Canary Islands. However, a terrorist bombing that day had closed Las Palmas, causing flights to be diverted to Tenerife, a much smaller airport not well-suited to serve jumbo jets.1
Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten piloted the KLM flight, which carried two hundred thirty-four ...