63 Years ago today: On 16 July 1957 a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation crashed near Biak, killing 58 out of 68 occupants.

Date:Tuesday 16 July 1957
Type:Silhouette image of generic CONI model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lockheed L-1049C-55-81 Super Constellation
Operator:KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
C/n / msn:4504
First flight:1953
Total airframe hrs:11867
Engines:Wright R-3350 (972TC18DA3)
Crew:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Passengers:Fatalities: 49 / Occupants: 59
Total:Fatalities: 58 / Occupants: 68
Aircraft damage:Destroyed
Aircraft fate:Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:1,2 km (0.8 mls) off Biak-Mokmer Airport (BIK) (   Indonesia)
Phase:En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Biak-Mokmer Airport (BIK/WABB), Indonesia
Destination airport:Manila International Airport (MNL/RPLL), Philippines

KLM flight KL844, a Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellation, named “Neutron”, was destroyed when it impacted the water off Biak Airport, Netherlands New Guinea (now Indonesia).
KL844 was the return leg of a weekly return flight between Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Biak. The first leg of the flight was from Biak to Manila, Philippines.
The aircraft took off from Biak-Mokmer Airport’s runway 10 at 03:32 at night. Shortly after takeoff, the flight crew radioed the tower controller, asking to keep the runway lights on and to requested permission for a low run over the airfield. Both requests were granted. The aircraft was in a 180 degree left hand turn when it gradually lost altitude until it struck the sea and broke apart. The wreckage sank in 250 m of water.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “The explanation of the accident lies either in an error on the part of the pilot or in a technical failure. The Board was unable to state whether the accident could have been caused by a combination of both pilot error and technical failure. The Board was of the opinion that low runs should not be made by aircraft on scheduled services. The magnitude of the danger that is inherent in the proximity of the ground on takeoff and landing should not be increased unnecessarily by flying at low altitude.”