A fully fueled Convair C-131D passenger plane of the United States Air Force took off at 2:05 p.m. from Munich-Riem in the direction of Norfolk (England) when it hit a tram in the Schwanthalerstrasse / Martin area shortly after take-off - around 2:10 p.m. -Greif-Strasse (north of Theresienwiese) fell.
Even before the start, the 5-year-old machine had problems with the engine, which apparently could be fixed. The pilot John Connery decided to take off and so the fully fueled Convair rolled onto the east side of the runway with 20 people (13 passengers) on board and took off at 14:05 for England.
At the same time, on the shopping Saturday, 8 days before Christmas Eve, there was a lot of activity in the shopping mile at the Bayer- / Martin-Greif-Strasse intersection in the state capital.
In the United States Air Force's Convair C-131D (CV-340) Samaritan (identification: 55-0291), however, the situation came to a head shortly after take-off. The vulnerable engine failed again, so the twin-engine machine can hardly gain any height. The pilot John Connery therefore decided to return to Munich Airport. During the maneuver, however, the aircraft struck the tower cross of St. Paul's Church on Theresienwiese at 2:10 p.m. and then crashed.
Part of the wing penetrated the roof of a house, and almost 4000 liters of fuel turned the street into a 50-meter-high burning inferno in a split second. The trailer of tram line 10 is set on fire by burning aircraft parts. The fire was extinguished by the Munich fire brigade within 30 minutes.
A total of 32 tram passengers and passers-by, as well as all 20 occupants of the Convair, are killed in the tragic plane crash.
Immediately after the disaster, US authorities, together with German experts, try to reconstruct the cause of the accident. After evaluating the flight recorder, the Munich public prosecutor's office came to the conclusion: German authorities cannot be proven to be guilty of the flight disaster, a fuel pump had accumulated water. It remained unclear why the Convair took off with a full tank for the flight to London. The flight to London would have taken about 3 hours, but the machine had been refueled for a 9.5 hour flight.
After the black Saturday, the call for an imminent relocation of Munich Airport becomes unmistakable. The state government and city administration, under the impression of the aircraft disaster in Munich, are distancing themselves from the expansion options of the Riem airport.