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Feb 9, 2010

                                                                                 56 years old, 21,700 hours, on the ground
                                                                                 looking at his burning ship after being
                                                                                 pulled to his feet and to safety. please
                                                                                 someone, wrap him in a blanket ~

this originally was to be posted 18 may, but somehow the heart went out of me ~

victor f grubbs was born 18 may 1920, a georgia boy born and bred. he lived in centerport, new york, while he captained the 747 for pan am. he retired to beaufort, south carolina, died there 13 march 1995 and was buried in his home soil of fulton county, georgia. for me, it seemed he could not face one more tenerife anniversary. his passing was so quiet it hardly made a ripple in the aviation community, let alone the world at large. most can name the man who occupied the left seat of klm 4805, but how many can name the four-striper who was sitting in the left seat of pan am 1736? ~

victor was a gentle man, approachable, friendly and easy to get along with, free from any pretense or guile. he was an earthy sort, with a fondness for creature comforts and good food: he was able to relate to tenerife investigators what he had eaten for supper the night the fated flight took off from new york. his manner was soothing, and fellow crew members found him a joy to fly with ~

he had a good deal of the mother hen in him; he was solicitous of his passengers' safety and comfort as well as that of his crew, and quite protective of them. his 747 ended up parked a fair distance from the terminal at tenerife and at first victor made the decision to keep his passengers and crew on board where he could keep his watchful eye on them. when it became clear this was to be no ordinary delay, he had the doors of the 747 opened so people could enjoy some fresh air. a stairway ramp was put in place to allow passengers to deboard and stretch and relax, but they were not to stray too far from the aircraft. when time came for start-up, victor, ever kind and understanding of fear and jangled nerves, allowed upstairs passengers to observe the cockpit procedures (he was proud of his plane) ~

and as a perusal of the cvr transcripts will tell you, victor was a connoisseur and the consummate master of the well-placed colorful epithet ~

tenerife was grubbs's bane. if you've read the cvr transcripts, you know he twice stated he'd rather hold short of the active until the klm 747 had taken off. bob bragg, who was on the radio with atc, didn't hear him, and the clipper was instructed to taxi onto the runway, which it proceeded to do. grubbs's instinct was calling to him, and he knew it. but his 747 was committed to the runway and on it had to go. the farther his plane taxied down the runway, the more uneasy he became ~ i can imagine the back of his neck dripping with perspiration. grubbs was the most senior man (56 years) and pilot on that runway, with almost twice the hours of van zanten, and later i'm sure he felt he had the most responsibility for the safety of that runway and everyone on it. it was his tacit burden, and more than a small part of victor grubbs died in that post-crash fire along with his passengers and some of his crew whose safety and comfort were his charge and primary concerns. he can't have helped thinking he failed in his responsibility to trust his instinct, and the intuition only 21,700 hours can impart. he failed to say "no" ~

victor grubbs was tenerife's most overlooked victim. he was quiet in his sorrow and also the one who suffered the most, spiritually. after the post-crash interviews he rarely spoke about the crash, and few broached the subject with him because his sorrow was so profound, he wore his sadness. for bob bragg, speaking has been his therapy; it never was for victor grubbs. see the photo taken at tenerife showing him on the ground looking at his mortally wounded ship, utterly without help, dazed beyond words, burned arms hanging at his sides and face bloodied, uniform torn, still wearing his tie and wedding ring ~

                                                                                                                      ~ a loving student
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Posted: Tuesday February 9, 2010, 3:56 am
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Alex P. (0)
Sunday February 14, 2010, 2:10 pm
I think he was very gentle and kind man. The Tenerife's disasters was not his fault!

Ballman R. (0)
Tuesday March 30, 2010, 2:09 pm
He actully had a PILOT ERROR in this accident he was told to turn off at the 3 exit not the 4th. how did he die at death? FYI the accident was the KLM's fault 50% bombing at Las Palmas 20% 5% runway traffic. and 25% Victor's fault.

catherine g. (120)
Tuesday March 30, 2010, 5:22 pm
ballman r ~ please read further, this is from facebook, profile catherine garrigus, tab notes ~

how did you find this sharebook? were you searching vg? ~

Guy S. (0)
Tuesday May 18, 2010, 2:32 pm
How did he die in 1995?

Guy S. (0)
Tuesday May 18, 2010, 2:41 pm
Where can i find pictures of KLM and Pan-Am passengers

Guy S. (0)
Tuesday May 18, 2010, 2:42 pm
U knew him Alex P.

Steve B. (0)
Saturday August 7, 2010, 6:52 am
A man that did the best he could under intolerable circumstances. God Bless Captain Grubbs. God's speed.

Steve B. (0)
Saturday August 7, 2010, 6:54 am
Flown into Tenerife numerous times. The intersections were not marked. Did the best he could.

Steve B. (0)
Saturday August 7, 2010, 7:27 pm
The final accident report found that Jacob Van

Zanten was solely responsible for the accident. The fundamental factors in the development of the accident were the facts that van Zanten:
- Took off without being cleared to do so.
- Did not heed the air traffic controller's instruction to stand by for take off.
- Did not abandon take off when he knew the Pan Am aircraft was still taxiing.

Elliott B. (0)
Friday May 20, 2011, 11:55 pm
He already died in 1995?

jj u. (0)
Wednesday December 14, 2011, 5:09 pm
He was my grandfather and the most loving man I have ever known. Of his family, friends and animals. Had a special kind of charisma and was extremely charming. He and my grandmother had a fairy tail marriage and were married at the train station as he went off to fly bombers in WWII. She is still alive and in her 90's

Ketty Nielsen (1)
Monday January 16, 2012, 2:48 am
R.I.P. Victor. I know he was a very good pilot and a clever man as well. If only people listened to him that day (for example, he suggested to remain in the air above LPA and to wait until the airport would re-open, unfortunately, the ATC guys disregarded suggestion and ordered him to fly to Los Rodeos instead. I also read that he wanted to wait outside the runway in Los Rodeos and to wait until the Dutch plane would leave, and, once again, was ignored by the ATC.) .

@ Steve B.:

That report is not very accurate: vZ never "disregarded" that ATC order to wait: he never heard that instruction because of a heterodyne. And he never "knew" the PanAm plane was still on the runway. He was sure the American crew have cleared it. After all, vZ wasn't a murderer/suicidal, so it's pretty much ridiculous to claim he started his take off while KNOWING there's another plane still taxying!

While I don't deny the fact it was a very unfortunate decision to start the take-off roll, it was a MISTAKE, not a murder, as some people choose to believe.

Thufir H. (0)
Tuesday February 7, 2012, 4:24 am
Since a couple of weeks, I'm investigating reports of catastrophic events and accidents all around the world and of any kind. The accident on tenerife was one of the most tragical ones to me. It fills my heart with sorrow, that this disaster could happen, and that so much malformed parts where put together to form this deadly puzzle. It wasn't Victors fault at all what happened out there, he did all what could be done. First of all, I have the opinion that on this kind of airport and at such (wheather) conditions it was grossly negligent to have 2 B747 taxiing on the main runway at the same time. Tower should have made unmistakable clear FROM THE BEGINNING to KLM that PanAm was taxiing behind him, and that clearence will be granted after PanAm had left the main runway. Maybe that standard procedures are granting clearance only on request, but in this case, without sight, Tower should have made only one clear statement to show up the complete situation to the KLM crew. This did not happen. The Tower gave the instruction to wait at the end of runway 12/30 much too late under given circumstances. Jacob Van Zanten, however, should have given more attention to his flight engineer, asking him if the PanAm had already been gone. Flight Engineer was the only one who apprehended the situation out of PanAm radio transmission. So we have do another time with commonly made human mistakes: To have confidence in circumstances solely because we want them to exist. At given circumstances, Van Zanten had the common experience, that main runway is never used for taxiing, nor to have 2 Boeings taxiing on it on the same time. But he could have asked. The clowds, sight conditions, the little airport, the bombing, the chaos, the duty time thing, all those things getting him almost surely wanting to leave tenerife as fast as possible should have brought him to ask better twice for clearance, for the more chaos is around you, the higher is the probability for failures, and the more information you need. Why didn't he ask? Because of another common human failure: Because we did it that way since years, buddy. For Victor, i'm sure this day changed his life, but it was clearly not his fault. Perhaps he could have said "no", but he had no reason to distrust the tower (except for the fact of letting planes taxiing on main runway), for he twice had indicated that his plane was still taxiing on the runway.

@Ballman: I don't think you've got a deep understanding of this accident, of human mistakes and of the difficulty of making correct decisions under such circumstances.

John Rogers (0)
Sunday October 27, 2013, 3:24 pm
I have been reading a lot about this accident lately. Captain Grubbs was always a man I wondered about and have only now followed up my curiosity. From comments I seen it leaves me the impression that this man was the salt of the Earth and was an excellent pilot. Whenever I operate in fog, or cross an active runway, I think of Tenerife . Captain Grubbs RIP


catherine g.
female, age 54, single
Ashland, OH, USA
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