Just a few days before Christmas on December 21, 1992, Martinair flight MP495 crashed at Faro Airport (FAO), Portugal. On board were 13 crew members and 327 passengers. Tragically 54 passengers and two cabin crew were killed in the accident.
A few months ago one of my lovely Facebook followers, Herman Jansink contacted me regarding this terrible accident. Jansink was one of the ten cabin crew members working on the flight that day. His heroic and incredibly honest story is told here, much of it in his own words.
Jansink had started working for Martinair, a Dutch charter carrier based at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS), just a few months earlier and had straight away fallen in love with the job and the airline.
Originally rostered the late afternoon FAO service, he had been changed last-minute onto the early morning departure, meaning his plans to meet up with his family before Christmas had to be altered slightly.
It was a cold and crisp winters day, as the 13 crew (three flight and ten cabin crew) members arrived at Schiphol for the standard pre-flight briefing. The crew were in good spirits. Just a few days before Christmas, they knew the flight would be full of passengers off to meet loved ones, or to soak up some winter sunshine in the Algarve. The purser on the flight asked the crew who wanted to assist the flight attendant working in the lower galley. After some hesitation, as the job downstairs under the feet of the passengers was very demanding, Jansink raised his hand. Little did he know that this decision would potentially save his life just a few hours later.
The flight that day was to be operated by a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30F (PH-MBN). Built in 1975, the jet had been delivered brand new to Martinair. It was still dark in Amsterdam as the 327 passengers boarded the aircraft and settled in for the flight. The pilots had been warned of some bad weather at their destination and the possibility of some thunderstorm activity. However this was nothing unusual for this time of year and the flight crew had operated the route many times before.
PH-MBN The aircraft involved in the accident.
Just over two and half hours after take off, the DC-10 began to make its decent into FAO. The flight had passed off uneventfully as the crew prepared the cabin for landing. Buffeted by some light to moderate turbulence, the Captain warned the cabin crew that the weather was pretty bad and to ensure that the cabin and galley areas were well secured.
However, as the aircraft started its final approach the turbulence intensified. A large thunderstorm lay over the airport and aircraft ahead of MP495 were reporting severe wind shear hampering their approaches. By now both crew and passengers were feeling uneasy and from here Herman takes up the story…..