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Song Parodies -> "The Tenerife Disaster 1977"

Original Song Title:

"Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

 (MP3)
Original Performer:

Gordon Lightfoot

Parody Song Title:

"The Tenerife Disaster 1977"

Parody Written by:

Susanna Viljanen

The Lyrics

It's soon 40 years of the worst airliner disaster ever - the Tenerife Disaster (27th March 1977). A tune of a maritime disaster fits IMO well to an aviation disaster story as well.
The legend lives on in a small airport down
in Tenerife, Spain, at Los Rodeos
it's forty years now, but we still remember how
five hundred eighty three died - it's hideous

The Isles of Canary are a paradise at sea
and many a tourist's destination
Big jets do fly and and they carry them by
and they have there a happy vacation

But a terrorist strike set caused Las Palmas a strife
and traffic was elsewhere diverted
Los Rodeos field was a small place to yield
just one runway and taxiing averted

Pan Am Jumbo Jet, she from New York had left
with passengers three hundred and eighty
Vic Grubbs as CO, pilot seasoned and old
World War Two vet, and Bob Bragg his matey

Now a Dutch Jumbo plane with "Rhine" as her name
was preparing for take-off on runway
But fog had set in and the sight had gone dim
and the Pan Am plane vanished in fog grey

Dutch plane, she had fuelled and the tower had ruled
she would taxi to runway to stand on
when Pan Am would land and the plane, mighty, grand
would take taxiway C-3 for apron

Dutch crew had worked hard and the plane was now parked
and the clock in the cockpit was ticking
Dutch work time laws said that you can't go ahead
if the work hours of the day are exceeding

So hurry had set on and they wanted be gone
before the law said they had to quit working
A request for take-off with a Dutch drawl so rough
made by Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten

The tower was unsure what the Dutch crew would do
and they failed all the communications
Loud heterodyne spoiled the radio line
as they both used same channel to stations

The American jet missed the C-3 and yet
she was taxiing on runway for apron
Now tower lost her, they did not know of where
she might be, and the Dutch, they would go on

The Dutch skipper asked if he could now at last
rev the engines and go for the runway
He was cleared for the route but it left him in doubt
if they were cleared or were ordered to stay

Van Zanten did decide time was not on his side
and he did make the fatal decision
He started take-off run without clearing yet done
as the Pan Am made hasty transmission

"We're heading for C-4 - please give us some more
taxiing time so we can clear off the runway"
But the tower said no - as the Dutch plane had gone
for the run for the take-off and not stay

Van Zanten pulled yoke - and in horror he choked
as he saw Pan Am plane just ahead him
He tried to lift nose but it went down the hose
as the two Jumbo Jets went colliding

"That son-of-a-gun is coming straight on"!
Victor Grubbs yelled on radio, crying
The Dutch plane took off, but it was not enough
to clear the Pan Am plane whilst yet flying

A big fireball, then it over was all
as the Dutch plane hit ground and exploded
The Pan Am did ignite and three hundred did die
in the fire which was kerosene loaded

The legend lives on in a small airport down
in Tenerife, Spain, at Los Rodeos
it's forty years now, but we still remember how
five hundred eighty three died - it's hideous

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Original Song: 
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Voting Results

 
Pacing: 4.4
How Funny: 4.4
Overall Rating: 4.4

Total Votes: 7

Voting Breakdown

The following represent how many people voted for each category.

    Pacing How Funny Overall Rating
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 2   0
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 3   0
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 4   0
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User Comments

Comments are subject to review, and can be removed by the administration of the site at any time and for any reason.

Callmelennie - March 15, 2017 - Report this comment
Wow! This could be the best parody of the new year, Susanna
Michael Pacholek - March 15, 2017 - Report this comment
It wouldn't be an official Wreck parody if I didn't at least comment. I was 7, and, as with the Edmund Fitzgerald, I have no memory of this. If Americans had been killed, the news here would have gone on and on and on about it. But it's a worthy subject, properly done.
Patrick - March 15, 2017 - Report this comment
I remember the incident quite well and the role that failure in communication played in the deaths. Did not know about the Dutch aviation rules. I learned something from your version. A very fine retelling of the story in the most appropriate format available on this site. This was a major news story in the US. Largest casualty numbers in an aviation mishap up to that time.
Patrick - March 15, 2017 - Report this comment
As I recall, the tower said something like "Not clear for take off" and apparently one of the pilots only heard "Take off". I believe the term "take off" is not permitted in communication unless the plane is actually clear. This may have been a rule formulated in response to this crash. While English is the international language of aviation, it was not the native language of the control tower nor the KLM crew. That could have affected communications as well.
Rob Arndt - March 15, 2017 - Report this comment
Technically, this is the greatest crash of two jets on the ground. The highest for a single jet in flight is Japan Airlines Flight 123. On August 12, 1985 a flight from Tokyo to Osaka crashed into Mount Takamagahara leaving only 4 survivors. 520 died. And the true Number 1 is the combined 9/11 jet crashes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA site. 2996 killed.
Susanna Viljanen - March 16, 2017 - Report this comment
Thanks everyone who voted! The Tenerife disaster was one of the first memories of my own childhood - we were at my grandparents' place and I was playing with my brother, when we watched the news on telly and they aired the horrible news.

I learned later of this disaster on Risk Management class in university, as it was used as an example of a "disaster chain" - if one of 20 or so causes had not occurred, the disaster would not have happened (bombing at Las Palmas, the fog, refuelling of the KLM plane, taxiway used as parking place, Dutch work time laws being inflexible, KLM captain mishearing the orders of the tower, Pan Am captain missing the C-3 taxiway on the fog, ambiguous use of language, both jets communicating on the same channel etc). As a cherry on the cake the tower crew was listening to a soccer game, grossly violating Spanish work safety regulations. All in all, I thought this sad disaster deserved a commemoration song.
Roger - March 17, 2017 - Report this comment
I wonder if Susanna remembers Aero Flight 311 in her own country?

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