Constellation PH-TEN

Mauchline / Tarbolton, Ayrshire

 
     
 
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Aircraft Type Photo

 

BELOW: Lockheed Constellation N749NL, on display at Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome, Lelystad, The Netherlands.

 

lockheed constellation N749NL on display at Lelystad the Netherlands

 

Photo: User, Ellywa. Released by the author to the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

 


 

BELOW: Cockpit and instrument panel of Constellation shown above.

 

cockpit and instrument panel of lockheed constellation at aviodrome museum in the netherlands

 

Photo: 2005 Stahlkocher. Released by the author to the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Type and Background

 

KLM Lockheed L-049-46-25 Constellation / PH-TEN

 


 

Aircraft Name: "Nijmegen"

 

Aircraft Type Nickname: "Connie"

 

 

The L-049 Constellation was produced by the Lockheed Corporation between 1943 and 1958. The aircraft was equipped with four Wright Cyclone C18 BA3 radial piston engines.

 

The "Connie" was distinguishable by its dolphin-shaped fuselage and triple-tail. The wings of the constellation were based on the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter wings (rescaled) The military variant of the Constellation was the C-121.

 

A total of 856 Constellations were produced, in four variants.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Accident Details  

 

(Please scroll to read)

 

Lockheed Constellation PH-TEN was on a transatlantic flight from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to New York via Prestwick airport, Scotland. In the event of bad weather at Prestwick, the aircraft was to divert to Shannon Airport in Ireland.

 

"Nijmegen" was being flown by KLM's chief pilot, Captain Koene Dirk Parmentier, assisted by his co-pilot Captain Kevin Joseph O'Brien. On board were 10 crew members (flight crew & air hostesses) and 30 passengers. The aircraft was also carrying freight consisting of watches, textiles and mail.

 

As the aircraft headed over England, the weather at Prestwick in Scotland began to deteriorate. Captain Parmentier was unaware of this deterioration in the weather as he had not received any updates advising him of this. If he had, he could have diverted to Shannon. (As it happened, however, the weather at Shannon were even worse than that at Prestwick. In such an event, standing orders required the captain to return to Schiphol.)

 

Thus, unaware of the strong crosswinds and low cloud ceiling over Prestwick, Captain Parmentier continued toward Prestwick, as he was fully expecting to land there. The captain also seemed unaware, however, of the fact that two earlier SAS flights had decided not to land at Prestwick.

 

As the Constellation approached Prestwick, and during final approach for runway 32 (the main runway), Captain Parmentier decided that the crosswinds he was experiencing were too great to continue the approach. He therefore called a 'missed approach', pulled up, and overshot runway 32. At the same time, he requested Prestwick Control for permission to land on runway 26 which he felt would make for a safer approach. Captain Parmentier had landed on runway 26 at night on previous occasions.

 

Runway 26 was a shorter runway, and was not equipped with radar. Thus, it was mandatory that the pilots of all aircraft using this runway had visual contact with the ground during their approach.

 

Permission granted, Captain Parmentier began the climb and circling manoeuvre for approach to runway 26. At some point in this manoeuvre, the pilot entered a 'dense fog' (actually, the very low cloud ceiling). As a result, the captain lost his required visual contact with the ground.

 

Apparently, the flight crew were consulting their charts for the area, as these were found later detached from the main manual. However, it was also discovered later that an important spot height marking on the charts was inaccurate. Instead of showing a terrain height of 450ft / 137m, the aircraft's charts indicated the height of the ground at this point was only 45ft / 13.7m (and therefore safe for low flying).

 

At some point during his circling manoeuvre, the aircraft descended dangerously low over the hilly ground near to the approach path. Flying just under 400ft / 122m, and about 3.5 miles / 5.6km from Prestwick Airport, the aircraft sliced straight through some 132,000V high tension power lines which formed part of the British Electricity Authority National Grid. These heavy electrical cables damaged the propellers, sheared off part of the tailplane, and set the aircraft's fuel tanks ablaze.

 

At this point, the captain attempted to pull his aircraft up to clear the obstruction, which cloud and mist had obscured from his view. Due to the severe damage, however, the aircraft was now out of his control. After circling left for some distance, the Constellation finally crashed to the ground in flames in a field close to Auchinweet Farm, Mauchline, and about 5 miles / 8km ENE of Prestwick Airport.

 


 

Page 2: Newspaper Reports of the Accident.

 

Page 3: Official Inquiry Report: Probable Cause.

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Crew / Passenger Casualties

 

All 40 people on board perished in this accident. Six passengers survived the initial impact and fire, but they died later in hospital.

 

 

Nationalities Involved

 

For full passenger / crew list and crew photos, see Page 1-B

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Photos

 

BELOW: Monument in Oegstgeest, Holland, to the memory of Capt. Permentier, KLM board member, Mr. Veenendaal, and Lockheed board member, Mr. MacInerny, who died in this accident.

 

monument in Oegstgeest Holland to memory of Capt. Permentier and others who died in this accident

 

Photo: Used with author's permission

 


 

BELOW: Monument at Oegstgeest commemorating the loss of KLM Lockheed L49 'Nijmegen' PH-TEN in 1948 near Prestwick, Scotland.

 

Dedicated to the memory of Capt. Parmentier and the board members who lost their lives in this tragic accident.

 

memorial plaque at Oegstgeest commemorating the loss of KLM Lockheed L49 PH-TEN in 1948 near Prestwick Scotland

 

Photo: Used with author's permission

 


 

BELOW: The memorial gravestone at Troon Cemetery to co-pilot, Kevin J O'Brien.

 

memorial gravestone at Troon Cemetery to co-pilot Kevin J O'Brien

 

Photo: © 2007 James Towill

 


 

BELOW: Closer view of above showing inscription on gravestone.

 

closer view of gravestone showing inscription

 

Photo: © 2007 James Towill

 

 

 

 

 

Crash Site Photos

 

BELOW: the tangled wreckage of Lockheed Constellation PH-TEN shortly after it crashed near Auchinweet Farm between Mauchline and Tarbolton in Ayrshire.

 

photo of wreckage taken shortly after crash of constellation in 1948

 

Photo: 1948 Source unknown.

 


 

BELOW: Some of the fields belonging to Auchinweet Farm. It was in these fields that the Constellation crashed in 1948.

 

fields of Auchinweet Farm with pylons in distance near treeline

 

Photo: © 2007 James Towill

 


 

BELOW: The vicinity of the crash site as it appears today. No known wreckage remains on site. The National Grid pylons can be seen in the background.

 

vicinity of crash site as  it appears today. No wreckage remains on site.

 

Photo: © 2007 James Towill

 


 

BELOW: The accident location viewed from another perspective. Compare this photo with the photo on the second page of the Evening Times report on page 2. Both photos show almost exactly the same area.

 

 

accident site viewed from another perspective

 

Photo: © 2007 James Towill

 


 

BELOW: The National Grid high tension (HT) power lines which the low-flying aircraft struck just before crashing a short distance away. On the day of the accident, this entire area was shrouded in heavy cloud and mist.

 

one of the national  grid pylons where the aircraft struck the suspended cables

 

Photo: © 2007 James Towill

 


 

BELOW: The National Grid HT pylon closest to the scene of the accident. The uppermost cable on the apex of the pylon is the earth cable. The remaining 3 cables beneath, suspended from isolators, are the high tension cables carrying 132,000 Volts.

 

National Grid Pylon N44 standing closest to scene of accident

 

The aircraft's four propellers sliced through the 3 high tension cables, which resulted in the fuel tanks being set ablaze. Parts of the Constellation's tail fins were sheared off by the earth cable (topmost cable). The cables themselves were severed and the electricity supply interrupted.

 

After the impact, the aircraft continued circling left uncontrollably, before finally crashing in the field.

 

Photo: © 2007 James Towill

 


 

BELOW: Bearing the engineers' location identifier 'N44' on the lower framework, this pylon stands closest to the scene of the accident. It was one of the two pylons between which the Constellation flew when it crashed into the high tension cables suspended between them.

 

lower section of pylon showing engineer's location identifier plate N44

 

OS Grid Reference: NS 422267 (electricity pylon N.44)

 

Photo: © 2007 James Towill

 

 


 

 

Page Selector

 

 

PAGE 3:  Official Inquiry Report (Probable Cause)

 

 


 

 

Photo Gallery

 

At the moment, there are no additional crash site photos in the Photo Gallery.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOP OF PAGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crash Date / Site

 

Accident Date: 20 Oct 1948

 

Accident Site:

Mauchline / Tarbolton

 

(On fields belonging to Auchinweet Farm) (115m)

 

Region: East Ayrshire / South Ayrshire boundary.

 

Nearest town or village:

Mauchline or

Tarbolton

 

Nearest large towns:

Ayr (W), Prestwick (W), or Troon (W)

 

OS Grid Refs. NS 453288 (crash site)

 

NS 422267 (Electricity pylon N.44)

 

NS 423264 (Electricity pylon N.45)

 

High Tension cable suspended between two pylons (collision site)

 

GPS Ref. N/A

 

Present Condition: The remains of this aircraft have been removed completely from the site.

Easily accessible farmland. Please note that this site is located on working farm property rather then open moorland.

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Details

 

Registration or Serial: PH-TEN

 

Operator: KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines)

 

Operating Base: Amsterdam (Schiphol)

 

Base Location: Amsterdam, Niederlande.

 

Current Airport Status: Operational Civil Airport

 

Current Airport Name: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA: AMS / ICAO: EHAM), Niederlande.

 

 

 

 

Related Links

 

Accident Specific Links

1948 Constellation Air Disaster at Wikipedia

Brief accident report at Aviation Safety Network (Dutch version)

Constellation "Nijmegen" verongelukt bij Prestwick (Dutch site)

 

Captain K. D. Parmentier

Biografie van Parmentier, Koene Dirk (Dutch)

The Loss of KLM's most famous captain at The Cyberbore - the Flying Dutchman

 

Other Links

Dutch Aviation

Dutch Historic Aviation Sites at Nederlandse Luchtvaart (Dutch and English)

Lockheed Constellation at Wikipedia

Lockheed Corporation at Wikipedia

Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome (English language available)

 


 

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