1936 KLM Croydon accident

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1936 KLM Croydon accident
KLM DC2 PH-AKL at Alor Star (Setar) Malaysia.jpg
KLM Douglas DC2, PH-AKL, pictured at Alor Setar, Malaysia
Date 9 December 1936
Summary Crash on take-off
Site Croydon, United Kingdom
51°20′45″N 0°7′21″W / 51.34583°N 0.12250°W / 51.34583; -0.12250Coordinates: 51°20′45″N 0°7′21″W / 51.34583°N 0.12250°W / 51.34583; -0.12250
Aircraft type Douglas DC-2-115E
Aircraft name Lijster
Operator KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Registration PH-AKL
Flight origin Croydon Air Port, Croydon, United Kingdom
Destination Amsterdam-Schiphol Municipal Airport (AMS/EHAM), Amsterdam, Netherlands
Passengers 13
Crew 4
Fatalities 15
Injuries 2
Survivors 2

The 1936 KLM Croydon accident was the crash of a KLM airliner on 9 December 1936, shortly after taking off from the Croydon Air Port (as it was known at the time) on a scheduled flight to Amsterdam, Netherlands. The aircraft was destroyed and 15 of the 17 passengers and crew on board died as a result of the accident.[1]


The Douglas DC-2 involved in the accident had been delivered to KLM and registered as PH-AKL in April of the previous year.[2]


On the day of the accident Croydon Air Port was shrouded in fog with visibility fluctuating at around 50 m (55 yd); and all aircraft were operating under so-called "QBI" (a Q code denoting that all operations have to be performed under instrument flight rules) conditions.[3][4] Crews of aircraft were following a white line laid out approximately East-West on the grass surface of Croydon's landing area during their take-off runs (a normal procedure at several airports in the United Kingdom at the time, that had been in use at Croydon since 1931).[3][5] A number of departures by this method had already been made that day by the time the KLM DC-2 took off, including a Swissair DC-2 about 25 minutes beforehand.[3]

The KLM DC-2 started its takeoff along the white line but after about 200 yd (183 m) veered off the line to the left and on becoming airborne headed south towards rising ground instead of in the normal westerly direction.[6][7][8] After flying over the southern boundary of the airport, the aircraft hit the chimney of a house on Hillcrest Road, Purley, then crashed into an empty house on the opposite side of the street.[6] The aircraft, the house and an adjoining house (also empty at the time) were destroyed in the crash and ensuing fire.[6] 14 of the passengers and crew were killed in the crash; the one surviving passenger found at the accident site later died at Purley Hospital, the flight attendant and radio operator also survived.[1][6][8] Two of the passengers who died were Arvid Lindman, a former Prime Minister of Sweden, and Juan de la Cierva, the inventor of the autogyro.[6][8]

At the time this was the worst air crash in the United Kingdom in terms of the number of fatalities.[8] This was the second crash of an aircraft using the white line to take off at Croydon in fog. On 31 May 1934 an Air France aircraft carrying newspapers to Paris crashed after hitting the mast of an aircraft radio navigation beacon that had been erected off the end of the white-line takeoff path, killing the two crew.[9]


The official investigation into the accident was terminated on 16 December without reaching a verdict.


  1. ^ a b planecrashinfo.com accident record
  2. ^ Golden Years of Aviation Archived 11 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. Netherlands pre–World War II historic civil aircraft register retrieved 20 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b c 'T. A. R. Mac'. "Commercial Aviation – Airlines, Airports: The Week at Croydon – The Week's Disaster and a Controversial Letter", Flight magazine, 17 December 1936, p.661 (online archive version) retrieved 20 May 2010.
  4. ^ ACP 131(E), p.2A4
  5. ^ 'B. P.' "Airport News: Croydon Weekly Notes", Flight magazine, 17 April 1931, p.341 (online archive version) retrieved 20 May 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e "The Croydon Disaster", Flight magazine, 17 December 1936, p.663 (online archive version) retrieved 20 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Ultimate Responsibility", Editorial, Flight magazine, 21 January 1937, p.48 (online archive version) retrieved 21 May 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d Haine, pp.279–280.
  9. ^ "The Croydon Tragedy", Editorial, Flight magazine, 7 June 1934, p.551 (online archive version) retrieved 20 May 2010.
  • Haine, Colonel Edgar A. Disaster in the Air. Rosemont Publishing and Printing Corporation, Cranbury NJ, 2000. ISBN 0-8453-4777-2
  • Communications Instructions Operating Signals, United States Department of Defense Combined Communication Electronics Board Publication Number ACP 131(E), retrieved 2010-05-20.

External links

  • ASN accident report
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