Tears in the Rain: The 2002 Überlingen midair collision

The tail section of Bashkirian Airlines flight 2937 lies in a field where it came to rest outside Überlingen, Germany. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The city of Ufa as it appears today. (UNESCO)
This photo appears to show the children in Moscow before their flight to Barcelona. (Mayday)
Konstantin Kaloyev and his sister Diana before the accident. (Unknown author via Getty Images)
RA-85816, theTupolev Tu-154 involved in the accident. (Torsten Maiwald)
The route of flight 2937 with the location of the Zürich ACC. (Google + own work)
The work station where Peter Nielsen was working that night. (BFU)
(Google + own work)
An example of a TCAS display with aircraft of various threat levels. (BFU)
A9C-DHL, the Boeing 757 involved in the accident. (Koen Gladines)
The route of DHL flight 611. (Google + own work)
The relative positions of the two planes as they approached one another. (BFU)
This timeline shows just how quickly events unfolded. Communications involving the 757 are on the left, and those involving the Tupolev are on the right. (BFU)
A dramatized CGI animation of the moment of the collision from Mayday: Season 2 episode 4, “Deadly Crossroads.” In reality the left wing separated first, followed by the forward fuselage a full three seconds later.
The Mayday animation continues with both planes’ uncontrolled plunges toward the ground.
Map of the distribution of major wreckage components. (BFU)
Officials examine the tail section of the fallen Tupolev. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
A reconstruction of the exact configuration in which the planes came together. (BFU)
The Tupolev’s forward fuselage section lies crumpled in an orchard. (BFU)
An aerial view of the forward fuselage. (FlightGlobal)
One of the 757’s engines came to rest in this cornfield, totally flattened by the force of the impact. (BFU)
An aerial view of the Tu-154’s tail section. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The Tupolev’s tail came to rest across a rural road. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The crash site of the 757. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The damage to the 757’s tail where it struck the Tupolev. (BFU)
One of the Tupolev’s wings came to rest in front of this house. (BFU)
Part of the center fuselage section also fell near that same house. (BFU)
Another view of the Tu-154’s tail section. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The 757’s other engine came to rest in a different field. (BFU)
The tail section partially burned over both before and after impact. (BFU)
The Tupolev’s severed left wing landed in yet another field. (BFU)
A diagram of the 2001 Japan Airlines mid-air incident. (ARAIC Japan)
This drinks cart was thrown into the 747’s attic during the avoidance maneuver. (ARAIC Japan)
An artist’s impression of the near miss, by Wikimedia user Anynobody.
Part of the Tu-154’s landing gear fairing which was ripped off during the collision. (BFU)
Vitaly Kaloyev at the memorial to his wife and kids.
Vitaly Kaloyev, right, confronts the CEO of Skyguide, left. (Keystone)
Vitaly Kaloyev and his family’s grave. (The Los Angeles Times)
An undated photo of a young Peter Nielsen. (Lars Lindskov)
Vitaly Kaloyev speaks to reporters after his release from prison. (AFP)
A large crowd of reporters and well-wishers welcomed Kaloyev back home to Vladikavkaz. (Reuters)
Victims’ family members gather around the Tupolev’s tail after the crash. (AFP)
A memorial near the site of the crash evokes the pearl necklace which belonged to Diana Kaloyeva. (Unknown author)



Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store