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Accident description
Last updated: 22 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Monday 2 August 1937
Time:ca 19:40
Type:Sikorsky S-43B
Operator:Pan American Grace Airways (Panagra)
Registration: NC15065
C/n / msn: 4305
First flight: 1935
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 11 / Occupants: 11
Total:Fatalities: 14 / Occupants: 14
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:24 km (15 mls) W off Cristóbal (   Panama)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Cali Airport (CLO/SKCL), Colombia
Destination airport:Cristóbal Seaplane Base, Panama
Narrative:
The Sikorsky S-43B flying boat was operating on an international service from Cristóbal, Canal Zone, to Guayaquil, Ecuador. En route stops were made at Cali, Colombia and Tumaco, Colombia.
On the return leg, the airplane departed Cali at 15:40 with an estimated time or arrival at Cristóbal at 19:10. Last radio contact was at 19:38 when the airplane was descending towards Cristóbal. It impacted the sea and broke up.

Probable Cause:

The Board is of the opinion that this accident was caused by the NC-15065 striking the water while moving at a speed not less than 90 miles per hour, tearing the ship to pieces, causing the death of all aboard and that a fire resulted from the impact with the water. The Board is convinced that at the time of the collision the plane had a minimum of 80 gallons of gas which would have burned on the water a sufficient length of time to cause all burns or scorches found on any recovered wreckage.
The Board is of the opinion that the most probable contributing cause is one of the following and in the order named:
1. Failure of one or both engines due to faulty gasoline system, occurring during spiralling down mentioned in the pilot's last radio message.
2. The encountering of a sudden severe rain, as altitude was being lost by the plane in spiralling descent, resulting in ther blanking out of all visual contact.

Classification:
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Water

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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Cali Airport to Cristóbal Seaplane Base as the crow flies is 751 km (469 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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Sikorsky S.43

  • 53 built
  • 2nd loss
  • 2nd fatal accident
  • The worst accident
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 Panama
  • The worst accident (at the time)
  • 7th worst accident (currently)
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