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The tragedy of the NLM Flight 431 that flew into a tornado

Thursday, October 6th 2022, 4:36 am - On this day in weather history, a plane crashed in the Netherlands due to a tornado.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On Tuesday, October 6, 1981, NLM CityHopper Flight 431 crashed. The aircraft was carrying four crew and 13 passengers — there were no survivors.

The flight was scheduled to fly from Rotterdam (Netherlands) to Hamburg (Germany) with a stopover in Eindhoven (Netherlands).

The captain was Jozef Werner, a 33-year-old who had been with NLM CityHopper for almost 11 years. Werner had 4,900 flight hours under his belt. He was accompanied by first officer Hendrik Schoorl, a 28-year-old with 2,971 hours of flight time.

1280px-De trap naar het viaduct waarnaast het vliegtuig neerkwam ligt nog vol met broks, Bestanddeelnr 931-7303 Courtesy of Rob Croes/Wikipedia/CC0

Exactly 44 minutes before the aircraft took off, the crew received a weather brief stating that there were strong thunderstorms that accounted for 37.5 per cent of sky coverage close to the departing airport.

The plane took off at 5:04 p.m. Five minutes later, the crew noted heavy rain on the airplane's weather avoidance radar. At 5:12 p.m., the plane flew into a tornado.

NLM CityHopper Fokker F28-4000 Volpati-1 *"PH-CHI, the aircraft involved in the accident, is seen here in May 1981." Courtesy Christian Volpati/Wikipedia/GFDL 1.2*

A police officer saw the tornado and took photos of it. A few minutes later, the officer then saw smoke and the burning plane.

An investigation of the incident revealed that the event was caused by a pressure drop associated with the tornado. The tornadic winds caused the plane’s starboard wing to detach. The plane then fell from 910 m and crashed near Moerdijk.

To learn more about the NLM CityHopper Flight 431, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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