Date & Time: Aug 2, 1937 at 1938 LT
Type of aircraft:
Sikorsky S-43
Operator:
Registration:
NC15065
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Lima – Guayaquil – Tumaco – Cali – Cristóbal – Panama City
MSN:
4305
YOM:
1936
Country:
Panama
Crew on board:
3
Crew fatalities:
3
Pax on board:
11
Pax fatalities:
11
Other fatalities:
0
Total fatalities:
14
Captain / Total hours on type:
991
Circumstances:
While descending to Cristóbal-France Field (Colón), the pilot informed ATC at an altitude of some 2,000 feet that he was approaching the city via the Bahía Limón Bay. In rain falls, the seaplane became out of control and crashed into the sea few kilometers off shore. The debris of the plane christened 'Santa Maria' were found a day later and no one survived among the 14 occupants.
Probable cause:
The Board is conclusively of the opinion that the accident was caused by the NC15065 striking the water while moving less then 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 one any recovered wreckage. The specific contributing cause of this aircraft colliding with the water is beyond the knowledge of man. However, there must have been a specific contributing cause or causes, and the Board is of the opinion that the most probable contributing cause is one of the following and in the order named:
Failure of one or both engines due to faulty gasoline system, occurring during the spiralling down mentioned in the pilot's last radio message.
The encountering of a sudden severe rain, as altitude was being lost by the plane in the spiralling descent, resulting in the blanking out of all visual contact.