The Munich crash
February 6, 2017
Going back to this day in 1958 a British European Airways flight crashed just after the takeoff in Munich. Twenty-three on board passenger including eight players from the Manchester United died in the crash. Manchester United soccer team had just qualified for the semifinals of the European Cup after 3-3 tie with Red Star.
The soccer team was returning from Belgrade, where the red devils had tied the European Cup quarter-finals Red Star team. Coach Matt Busby had led the united team during the period.
After a player missed his passport at the hotel flight Airspeed Ambassador G-ALZU boarding the team back to Manchester was delayed for an hour. The Airspeed Ambassador G-ALZU charter then was halted at Munich-Rime Airport for re-fueling. Munich just had a snowstorm earlier and the weather conditions were not safe for flying. Troubled engine caused pilot James Thain to abort his first two attempts for take-off. On the third attempt pilots took off the charter aircraft in the air exactly at 3 p.m. But the aircraft crashed into a fence at the end of the runway just after minutes from take-off.
Twenty-two out of 43 passengers on board died in the crash instantly. Seven players of United were among the instant dead. Duncan Edwards the eighth, died from his injuries two weeks later, bringing the total death count to 23. Coach Busby survived with several critical injuries. The plane’s captain was amongst the survival but was charged with criminal charges for the negligence of ignoring snow gathered on the wings making the aircraft unable to get enough lift for flying.
German prosecutors did not clear the captain until 1968. A subsequent investigation revealed that the snow build-up on the wings was the reason for the aircraft to crash. The snow slush at the end of the runway had slowed the plane during the takeoff, making it impossible to achieve adequate amount of lift.
But still losing eight of the crucial team players Manchester United led by Coach Busby was successful in winning their first European Cup title in 1958. The team included two players who had survived the crash.
This day is marked as the black day by the Manchester United soccer team and fans globally.