Wednesday, 22 February 2012

1961, News: The Crash of Sabena Flight 548

On 15 February 1961, 73 people were killed in the crash of a Boeing 707 of Sabena in Berg, Kampenhout, Belgium. Sabena Flight 548 left seven hours earlier the New York airport and was preparing to land at Zaventem Airport.

The Boeing 707-329 with registration OO-SJB was on a long approach to runway 20 when, near the runway threshold, power was increased and the gear retracted. The aircraft gained height and made several circles in a left turn. During these turns the bank angle increased more and more until finally the aircraft was in a near vertical bank. The 707 crashed and caught fire near the district Lemmeken in Berg.

All 61 passengers and 11 crew members died. Most passengers were killed instantly by the impact. Others died in the fire that broke out after the collision. Passengers must have known that something went wrong. Their bodies were found in the crash position, head between the knees, arms wrapped around the head.

On board was the entire American art skating team. They were on their way to the World Championships in Prague. Some om them were just sixteen years old, it was their first trip abroad. One of the skaters was the national champion Dudley Richards, a friend of President John F. Kennedy. The loss of the U.S. team was considered so catastrophic for the sport that the 1961 World Figure Skating Championships were cancelled. 
Boeing 707-329 with registration OO-SJB
1961 US Skating Team in front of  Boeing 707-329 OO-SJB
Investigators at the crash site
Monument at the crash site


1961 News Reel

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