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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.

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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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