Accident Sikorsky S-42B NC16734, Tuesday 11 January 1938
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Date:Tuesday 11 January 1938
Type:Silhouette image of generic s42 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Sikorsky S-42B
Owner/operator:Pan American Airways (Pan Am)
Registration: NC16734
MSN: 4207
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:120 km S off Pago Pago, American Samoa -   Pacific Ocean
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Pago Pago International Airport (PPG/NSTU)
Destination airport:Auckland International Airport (AKL/NZAA)
A Sikorsky S-42B, named "Samoan Clipper" and registered NC16734, made the first air mail flight from New Zealand to Hawaii in January 1938.
The flying boat and its mail arrived in Honolulu on January 3, 1938, and just six days later it departed again for a return flight to Kingman Reef, Pago Pago, and Auckland.
About an hour after departing Pago Pago in the early morning hours of January 11, NC16734 suffered an oil leak and the crew decided to return to Pago Pago. Fully loaded with fuel for the long flight to Auckland, the ship was too heavy to land safely in Pago Pago's small harbor, and captain Musick decided to dump fuel to lighten the aircraft for landing. At some point during the fuel dumping operation the gasoline ignited and the Samoan Clipper was destroyed by an explosion, killing all 7 on board.


NZ History website
Pan Am Across the Pacific


  • 37th worst accident in 1938
  • 2nd worst accident of this aircraft type
  • worst accident of this aircraft type at the time



photo (c) Jamie Dodson; Diner Key, Miami, Florida; December 1937

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