On March 27th, 1977, a Boeing 747 of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines collided fatally with a 747 of Pan American Airlines on the runway of Los Rodeos International Airport on the Canary island of Tenerife. Five hundred and eighty-three people lost their lives; only 61 survived the air disaster.

On March 27th, 2007, 30 years after the disaster, a first time ever official international memorial service for the largest aviation disaster in history was held on the initiative of the Foundation for the Surviving Relatives of the Tenerife Disaster.

The international commemoration consisted of two parts: a memorial service and the unveiling of an international monument. The memorial service was held at the Auditorio de Tenerife in the capital Santa Cruz; the unveiling took place on Mt Mesa Mota in the municipality of San Cristóbal de La Laguna. The ceremonies were attended by Dutch and American next of kin and survivors, as well as Spanish aid workers and others who were involved in the disaster.

The monumental art work by renowned Dutch artist Rudi van de Wint, who suddenly died in May 2006, is an 18-metre spiral stair case, named Stairway to Heaven, of which the steps appear to move endlessly upward into infinity, but are cut off suddenly. The monument, situated in a breathtaking location on Mount Mesa Mota, is fitting and inspiring. It is a monument of which we can be proud, and which honors the victims.

Something terrible happened at Los Rodeos on 27 March 1977, which may have lain hidden for 30 years. It is important that justice is done to this disaster. The worst aviation diaster in history will no longer escape anybody’s notice. The monument gives us, the next of kin and survivors, and also all others who were involved, an opportunity to commemorate the disaster and find inner peace. At 17.06, the exact time of the disaster, those attending the unveiling of the monument observed two minutes of silence.

The Foundation for the Surviving Relatives of the Tenerife disaster has achieved its objective: a monument for all victims, for everyone involved.

Click here to read news archive

Foundation Relatives Victims Tenerife
P.O. Box 222
2100 AE Heemstede
The Netherlands
Mesa Mota Tenerife, March 27 2008