Date: March 22nd, 1952
Report No.: Not Available
Report Date: -
This is not an accident investigation report.
On the 22nd March 1952 a McDonnell-Douglas DC-6, a Four-Engined Royal Dutch (K.L.M.) airliner, flying through a fog patch,
plunged into a forest near Frankfurt airport and burst into flames, killing 45. It
was on the Johannesburg - Amsterdam service and was on the Rome to
Frankfurt lap of the flight. There was no immediate explanation for the
crash, except the weather. A light rain was falling. The sky was
completely overcast at 1,500 feet with a half-overcast at 300 feet. The
pilot was approaching the landing strip under radio instructions from the
control tower. There was no message from the plane to indicate that it
had been in distress.
Eye-witnesses said the plane came out of the fog, clipped the tree-tops,
and cut a quarter-mile lane through the forest. It exploded and burst
into flames about a half mile from the landing strip.
Forty-seven persons were on board (including ten crew). 42 people were
believed to have been killed immediately. The only final survivors were
two women: a German passenger and a ground hostess of the airline, who
was returning from a honeymoon trip to Rome with her husband, who was
killed. 23 of the dead were South Africans.
Two Germans driving in a lorry along the road only 50 yards from the
crash, ran to the plane, found a hole in the fuselage, and forced their
way in. They cut the survivors' safety belts with their pocket knives and
managed to free five people still alive in the rear. Of these, one died
in the ambulance, one in the hospital, and one a few days later. By the
time the fire engines and ambulance arrived, the plane was blazing
The airliner was the "Koningin Juliana", in which Queen Juliana and
Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands were to have travelled to the United
States for a State Visit the following week.