Crash site Near Paris/Orly airport, France
Airline Varig
Aircraft Boeing 707  –  PP-VJZ
Route Sao Paulo  –  Rio de Janeiro  –  Paris/Orly
Crew 17  –  10 survivors
Passengers 117  –  1 survivor


The crash

The flight from Rio de Janeiro was uneventful. At 13:58 the flight crew contacted Orly and reported a “problem with fire on board”. An emergency descent was requested. At 13:59 clearance was given to descend for a runway 07 landing making a straight-in approach possible. The situation on board was getting worse (smoke entering the cockpit and passengers becoming asphyxiated). The flight crew put on oxygen masks as smoke was making it impossible to read the instruments. At 14:03 the pilot decided to make an emergency landing 5 km short of the runway. The aircraft truncated some small trees and made a heavy landing on a field near Saulx-les-Chartreux. Both main gears collapsed and the engines were torn off in the subsequent skid. The fuselage however, remained intact.
The fire appears to have started in the aft right toilet. It was detected because smoke had entered the adjacent left toilet. The fire may have been started by an electrical fault or by the carelessness of a passenger. The lack of visibility in the cockpit prompted the crew to decide on a forced landing.


The mail

The plane carried mail from Brazil to European countries (France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain etc.). The only Nordic item so far recorded is a cover addressed to Finland.
Only some a part of the mail could be recovered and usually the items were much damaged by fire. The charred covers were often forwarded in different types of French service covers. Most of the mail also show a French handstamp (2 different main types are known).






Examples of mail

Large cover from Brazil with metermark SANTOS  BRASIL 9 VII 73 and addressed to Helsinki, Finland.
The badly damaged cover was forwarded to the recipient in a very large French service cover  type No 716-F-4 (360 x 273 mm).
Forwarded from France  PARIS GARE MONTPARNASSE 27-7 1973 and arrived in Helsinki 30.1.73 according to manuscript note on the back.
Thiesen Collection.