Pan Am Flight 806
A Pan Am B707-321B in flight
|Date||January 30, 1974|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain|
|Site||0.8 mi (1.3 km) from Pago Pago International Airport, American Samoa
|Aircraft type||Boeing 707-321B|
|Aircraft name||Clipper Radiant|
|Operator||Pan American World Airways|
|Flight origin||Auckland International Airport|
|1st stopover||Pago Pago International Airport|
|2nd stopover||Honolulu International Airport|
|Destination||Los Angeles International Airport|
Pan Am Flight 806, operated by Pan American World Airways Boeing 707-321B N454PA (Clipper Radiant), was an international scheduled flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Los Angeles, California with intermediate stops at Pago Pago, American Samoa and Honolulu, Hawaii. On January 30, 1974 it crashed on approach to Pago Pago International Airport, killing 87 passengers and ten crew members.
Accident cause and description
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the crash was the flight crew's late recognition, and failure to correct in a timely manner, an excessive descent rate which developed as a result of the aircraft's penetration through destabilizing wind changes. The winds consisted of horizontal and vertical components produced by a heavy rainstorm and influenced by uneven terrain close to the aircraft's approach path. The captain's recognition was hampered by restricted visibility, the illusory effects of a "black hole" approach, inadequate monitoring of flight instruments, and the failure of the crew to call out descent rate during the last 15 seconds of flight.
The flight crew consisted of 52-year old Captain Leroy A. Petersen, 37-year old First Officer Richard V. Gaines, 43-year old Third Officer James S. Phillips, and 37-year old Flight Engineer Gerry W. Green.
All 10 crew members died, while 87 passengers ultimately died. Notably, all passengers survived the initial landing.
Nine passengers and one crew member survived the initial crash and post-accident fire. One passenger died the day after the accident. Three days after the accident, the remaining crew member and three passengers died. One passenger counted as a survivor by NTSB died nine days after the accident.