The story is shared by reader Peter van den Berg

On 23rd July 2000 I was flying NW0049 from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Detroit. My first ever flight, with an onward connection to Boston Logan Airport. Not the most direct route available, but I had to pay for the ticket myself and this reroute saved me a lot of money; which was of the utmost importance at the time, as I was only 18 years old and funds were tight. Besides, as an Avgeek and plane spotter what’s better than time spent in the air? NWA was operating a Boeing 747-400 for the leg to Detroit. 

After I found my aisle seat, at the back of the plane on the right-hand side, I began to get myself situated whilst boarding was being finalized; this would take some time, as the plane was fully loaded.

Suddenly there was a strange sound, the plane moved backward and forward and left to right.

There was a stewardess facing me and she shrugged her shoulders like she didn't understand what had happened either; but she remained calm, smiled and got on with closing baggage compartments. I was a bit distracted myself, as I noticed my mountain bike was being loaded. Although I had an aisle seat, the 2 seats next to me where still empty; so I busied myself by taking in all the platform activities. 

Shortly after the captain came on and explained that our plane had been hit by a KLM MD-11, while it was being pushed back from the gate. It was then that I noticed that there were fire brigade vehicles everywhere.

The winglet of the MD-11 had cut straight through the B747 winglet on the left side wing, which was on the opposite side to me.

We de-planed, got vouchers and incurred a length delay; which, in the end, became 6 hrs. We noticed the KLM service crew taking off the winglet; which was large but didn't look extremely heavy, as they were manually handling it.

Later that evening everybody re-boarded the same airplane and we soon departed, with one winglet missing.

The captain comforted everyone by stating that whilst it wasn't fuel-efficient, the asymmetrical situation would not be unsafe.

When we finally landed at Detroit there was clapping and cheers throughout the plane.

Arriving at night in Detroit, we transferred into a hotel. Just to get up really early for the flight to Boston Logon on a B757-200. We saw the crippled 747-400 as we taxied out; unfortunately, I didn't have my camera on standby and I was never able to get a front-facing picture of it which is a shame, as this would have been the best shot to clearly see both wings.

The story is shared by reader Peter van den Berg