Updated:
Original:
Year
1992
Month Day
October 04

Plane crashes into apartment building

A cargo plane crashes into an apartment building near an airport in Amsterdam, Holland, on this day in 1992. Four people aboard the plane and approximately 100 more in the apartment building lost their lives in the disaster.

An El-Al Boeing 747 cargo jet was scheduled to bring 114 tons of computers, machinery, textiles and various other materials from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 4. At 6:30 that Sunday evening, Captain Isaac Fuchs piloted the jet, carrying two other pilots and one passenger, out of Schipol Airport in good weather. However, only minutes after takeoff, fires broke out in the plane’s third and fourth engines and they fell right off the wing.

Fuchs decided to dump the plane’s fuel in a lake and head back to the airport, but the plane did not have enough power to make the return trip. Six miles short of the airport, Fuchs radioed, “Going down,” and the plane plunged straight into an apartment building in the Bijimermeer section of Amsterdam. A massive fireball exploded through the building. Firefighters rushed to the scene, but by the time the fire was under control, about 100 people were dead. An exact number was impossible to determine, as the explosion made body identification extremely difficult and the building housed mainly undocumented immigrants from Suriname and Aruba.

The accident was very similar to one that had taken place in Taiwan less than a year earlier, in which a China Airlines jet had crashed after losing its two right engines. An investigation into that crash had revealed the problem to be related to a fuse pin, part of the mechanism that binds the engines to the wings. Both crashes probably resulted from the fatigue and failure of this part.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Sputnik launched

The Soviet Union inaugurates the “Space Age” with its launch of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. The spacecraft, named Sputnik after the Russian word for “satellite,” was launched at 10:29 p.m. Moscow time from the Tyuratam launch base in the Kazakh Republic. ...read more

Pope calls for end to the Vietnam War

Pope Paul VI addresses 150,000 people in St. Peter’s Square in Rome and calls for an end to the war in Vietnam through negotiations. Although the Pope’s address had no impact on the Johnson administration and its policies in Southeast Asia, his comments were indicative of the ...read more

Work begins on Mount Rushmore

On this day in 1927, sculpting begins on the face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota. It would take another 12 years for the impressive granite images of four of America’s most revered and beloved presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, ...read more

Jim Bakker is indicted on federal charges

Televangelist Jim Bakker is indicted on federal charges of mail and wire fraud and of conspiring to defraud the public. The case against the founder of Praise the Lord (PTL) Ministries and three of his aides exploded in the press when it was revealed that Bakker had sex with ...read more

Lincoln watches a balloon ascension

On this day in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln observes a balloon demonstration near Washington, D.C. Both Confederate and Union armies experimented with using balloons to gather military intelligence in the early stages of the war, but the balloons proved to be dangerous and ...read more

Both sides battered at Germantown

On this day in 1777, 11,000 Patriots under General George Washington attempt an early morning attack on British General William Howe’s 9,000 British troops at Germantown, Pennsylvania, five miles north of the British-occupied capital city of Philadelphia. Washington’s Continental ...read more

Ike warns of the risk of “shell shock”

On this day in 1944, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower distributes to his combat units a report by the U.S. Surgeon General that reveals the hazards of prolonged exposure to combat. “[T]he danger of being killed or maimed imposes a strain so great that it causes men to break down. One ...read more