Narrative: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.
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» Pan Am Across the Pacific
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 Pago Pago International Airport to Auckland International Airport as the crow flies is 2890 km (1806 miles).
This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Networkĺs opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.