Pan Am Flight 7
A Pan Am Stratocruiser identical to Flight 7.
|Date||November 8, 1957|
|Summary||Crash, wreckage disappearance|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 377 Stratocruiser 10-29|
|Aircraft name||Clipper Romance Of The Skies|
|Operator||Pan American World Airways|
Pan Am Flight 7, registration N90944, Clipper Romance Of The Skies, was an around-the-world flight originating in San Francisco that flew westbound with several stops before arriving in Philadelphia. On the morning of November 8, 1957 the aircraft, a Boeing 377, departed San Francisco on its first leg to Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii at 11:51am PST. Last contact with the aircraft consisted of a routine radio transmission between the pilot in command and a US Coast Guard cutter performing radar surveillance duty at Ocean Station November located at the approximate halfway point between the mainland and Oahu. The flight never arrived in Hawaii.
Crash and recovery
The New York Times reported on November 9, 1957: "The Coast Guard sent out a search plane to look for the airliner, which carried 36 passengers and a crew of eight. The Coast Guard also alerted crews of two cutters to be ready to take part in the search. United Press International (UPI) reported that submarines USS Cusk and USS Carbonero were the closest vessels to the point where the plane was last reported and were diverted to the search. The last radio report from the plane came when Capt. G. H. Brown made a routine check."
The search response grew in size until it was reported to be the largest deployed in peace time since the failed search for Amelia Earhart. On November 14 the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea spotted bodies and small pieces of wreckage identified as coming from the missing aircraft floating on the ocean.
Fifteen bodies, most of them with life jackets from the lost airliner, 'Romance of the Skies,' were picked up today in the Pacific Ocean 955 miles northeast of Honolulu. The aircraft carrier Philippine Sea reported that the recoveries had been made in a 33-square-mile area of scattered debris.
All of the bodies were shoeless and had external injuries and multiple fractures, the carrier's report said. The Philippine Sea said she had a flotilla of small boats recovering and delivering bodies and bits of debris to her decks.
Toxicology results performed under the auspices of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office showed higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in a few of the remain sets recovered that suggested, but did not prove, that carbon monoxide poisoning may have been a factor in the crash.
The definitive cause of the accident has never been determined. Present interest in the mystery of the Romance of the Skies includes speculation by friends and family of the flight crew that the plane may have been lost due to a malfunctioning engine, a disgruntled flight crew member, or part of an insurance related fraud that involved an explosive device placed aboard the aircraft.
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- Herken, Gregg; Fortenberry, Ken (September 2004). "The Mystery of the Lost Clipper". Air & Space. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Fagan, Kevin (4 November 2007). "Romance of the Skies plane crash haunts pair 50 years later". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 15 December 2009.