Forty years after surviving a horrific plane crash in Malaga that claimed 50 lives a survivor is returning to the scene. 

The last time Mark Goldstein was in Malaga he was forced to make a decision that would mean life or death. 

Forty years ago the American tourist was one of 381 people trapped inside a burning plane that had failed its take-off, crossed the runway and smashed into an open field. 

Goldstein, 24 years old at the time, found the plane’s exit, but it was on fire. 

“It was either jump through the flames or be burned alive,” he said. 

The Arizona resident jumped 12 feet off the right wing of the burning plane to safety, and just moments later the aircraft exploded a second time. 

No one else made it out alive after that second explosion. 

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The Spantax flight BX995 crashed into an open field next to Malaga airport. Photo: Agencias

Speaking exclusively to the Olive Press Goldstein, now 65 years old, said he was planning to retire and live in Malaga.

It’ll be the first time he has returned to the Andalucian port city since that fateful day. 

On the morning of September 13 in 1982 a Spantax flight had flown from Madrid to Malaga, and later that day was bound for New York. 

But flight BX995 never made it into the sky. 

The plane was hurtling down the landing strip at about 130 miles with 1,295 metres of the runway left when the plane began to dip upwards for take-off. 

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The engine burst into flames after the aircraft collided with a concrete building.

But the captain felt a strong vibration – it was caused by pieces of tread from the wheel beneath the nose of the plane detaching. 

The vibration was so fierce the captain thought he would be unable to control the plane mid-air, so aborted the take-off. 

At that point Goldstein said he heard a loud explosion and looked out the window to see flames shooting out from the belly of the plane.  

“I shouted out: ‘brace, we are going to crash!’ and sure enough we went right off the runway,” he said. 

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Mark Goldstein during the 1980s.

The plane collided with a concrete building and smashed through the metal fence of the airport, crossing the N-340 highway and striking at least three vehicles.

The aircraft then smashed into a greenhouse and burst into flames in an open field. 

“The cabin filled immediately with this back smoke and fire, you couldn’t see in front of you,” Goldstein said. 

“I remember jumping over rows of seats and then I found an exit, but there was no chute – it was on fire.”

But Goldstein realised his best friend Gayle wasn’t by his side.

“I thought ‘oh my God how am I going to get off the plane without her’, she’s like a sister of mine,” he said. 

“I went back and found her, grabbed her arm and just threw her over the row of chairs until we found the exit again.

“I heard a lady scream, ‘save my baby’, and someone grabbed an infant from a woman and jumped out of the plane.”

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Fifty people lost their lives in the shocking air crash.

Goldstein made sure Gayle jumped first, and then he followed, leaping 12 feet through the flames and off the right wing of the plane, onto the field below. 

“It was either that or die,” he said. 

Goldstein and Gayle coughed up black soot outside from all of the smoke inhalation.

He said there was ‘absolute chaos’ surrounding the plane as he looked back at the aircraft and saw black smoke billowing from the engines. 

“Our two other friends, Alan and Mindy, came out shortly after us and then we just ran away from the plane to a safe distance,” Goldstein said. 

“Sure enough there was a second explosion and I didn’t see many people come out of the aircraft after that.”

Goldstein said emergency services arrived and took the injured away to Malaga Hospital. 

“They put my friend in a wheelchair and just started slapping triage numbers onto us,” he said. 

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Mark Goldstein, 65, plans to retire to Malaga.

Goldstein only suffered smoke inhalation and burns to his right arm, but his friend Gayle suffered a broken toe.

They then got taken to a hotel where Goldstein was reunited with his two other friends, who had miraculously escaped injury. 

Twelve hours later they were on an Iberia flight headed home.

“It’s ironic that I could be living in Malaga now,” Goldstein said. 

“It will be a weird experience when I am back there, but I’ve closed that chapter.

“Despite that unfortunate event I think Spain is a place we would enjoy – it’s a place that is very attractive.”

Goldstein plans to retire from his job in customer service next year and relocate to Spain with his husband Peter. 

It is something he has explored extensively over the past few months, launching a podcast in August this year, Where Do Gays Retire?

He said the podcast was aimed at helping members of the LGBTQ+ community find a safe and affordable retirement destination.

Three air crew and 47 passengers died in the plane crash, in what is one of Spain’s most shocking air disasters.

anthony@theolivepress.es

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