68 Years ago today: On 5 September 1954 a KLM Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation crashed into a river after takeoff from Shannon, Ireland, killing 28 out of 56 occupants.

Date:Sunday 5 September 1954
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
First flight:1953
Total airframe hrs:2498
Engines:Wright R-3350 (972TC18DA1)
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 10
Passengers:Fatalities: 25 / Occupants: 46
Total:Fatalities: 28 / Occupants: 56
Aircraft damage:Damaged beyond repair
Location:2,5 km (1.6 mls) SE off Shannon Airport (SNN) (https://cdn.aviation-safety.net/database/country/flags_15/EI.gif   Ireland)
Phase:Initial climb (ICL)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Shannon Airport (SNN/EINN), Ireland
Destination airport:New York-Idlewild International Airport, NY (IDL/KIDL), United States of America

The KLM Super Constellation, named “Triton”, operated on the Amsterdam-New York route. A scheduled refueling stop was made at Shannon. The flight left Shannon Terminal Building at 02:30 hours at night and taxied to runway 14 (5643 feet long). The before takeoff run-up was completed in takeoff position.

Takeoff was made at 02:38. V1 speed was reached at 3500 feet and lift-off at 125 knots was made just over the V2 speed at approximately 4000 feet from threshold. The flight then passed over the remaining 1600 feet of runway in a shallow climb, retracting its landing gear. The Constellation entered a shallow descent over the River Shannon. The duration of the flight was about 31 seconds from the time it passed over the end of the runway until the aircraft first contacted the water in a tail-down slightly right-wing low attitude. It came to rest on the Middle Ground, a shallow mudbank 8170 feet from the end of the runway, after losing engines no. 3 and 4.

Probable Cause:

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.”