The planes — Pan Am flight 1736 originating in Los Angeles and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight 4805, a charter from Amsterdam — crashed into each other on Los Rodeos Airport's single runway.
Visibility on the ground was poor, limited to 1,000 feet or so, but many other factors led to the disaster. Muddled instructions, malfunctioning runway lights and an overcrowded airport played roles, too, but perhaps the major factor was pilot error, specifically the bad judgment exercised by the Dutch captain.
The Pan Am plane before the collision.
The KLM plane before it ended up in an inferno
A photo taken minutes before the collision
A computer generated image of the crash
Dante's Inferno? The horrific aftermath. Just a few lucky people survived.
A Spanish police officer guards the wreckage
DRAMATISED VIDEO OF THE CRASH