I was born in early November 73 and have many early memories; one of them being a terrible plane crash which turns out to have been the Tenerife Disaster.
Today I learned, thanks to a Easyjet pilot who I chatted to the answer of a question that I always wondered; one that when visiting online plane enthusiasts forum seemed to cause arguments.
If Van Zanten had missed the Pan Am; even by the proverbial baw hair, then he could even with the 200m tail strike have flown around and landed without the need for any fuel dump.
With a full 747 and a completely full petrol load he could have landed; albeit there was a good chance of over shooting the runway due to being so heavy.
He explained all aitliners can do this and training is essential in the scenario of a fire on board after take off where the most important factor is to land and await help.
This has always intrigued me. As I said when asking the question on specialist forums the ensuing answers seem to cause arguing so it was great to speak to a pilot.
Unsurprisingly the disaster and the actions of Van Zanten are still an integral part of pilot training.