The deadliest aviation accident of all time took place before the two planes involved had even left the airport!
The Tenerife disaster took place on March 27, 1977 in the Canary Islands, when a pair of Boeing 747 jets collided on the runway of Los Rodeos Airport on the island of Tenerife. The planes were among a number of flights that had been redirected to Tenerife after a bomb had exploded at the nearby Gran Canaria Airport. This left several aircraft scattered along the taxiways of Los Rodeos in a dense fog with only one of the runways left unblocked. When Gran Canaria reopened, Tenerife was under a dense fog. With no ground radar, the only way for Los Rodeoís air traffic controllers to identify the location of each plane was through radio communication. Tragically, a series of miscommunications left one of the jumbo jets on the runway...directly in the path of another jet cleared for takeoff.
As he was hurtling down the runway, the pilot of KLM Flight 4805 eventually spotted Pan Am Flight 1736 directly ahead of him. Since his plane was traveling too fast to either stop or swerve, the pilot attempted a premature takeoff, but it was too late. The KLM jetís landing gear tore into the upper fuselage of the Pan Am plane and plowed into the runway in a towering inferno. Both aircraft were completely destroyed, with all 248 passengers aboard the KLM flight and 335 of the 396 passengers aboard Pan Am 1736 meeting their untimely deaths. This made for a total of 583 fatalities and just 61 survivors, though remarkably, both pilots and the flight engineer aboard the Pan Am craft made it out alive.