Narrative:Pan Am Flight 218 was on a return trip from San Juan to Miami with intermediate stops at Port au Prince and Antilla. The plane, a Sikorsky S42 flying boat, made its take-off run, attained a speed of about 80 knots and left the surface of the water. As the plane rose into the air to a height of 10 or 12 feet, the captain relaxed back pressure slightly, in order to gain speed, whereupon the plane seemed to want to go back on the water so he pulled back on the yoke. When it became obvious to him that the plane was going to go back on the water anyway, he dropped the nose quickly to "flatten out." After striking, bow first, the plane left the water in a slightly nose-high attitude, rose higher than previously, then returned to the water at a much steeper angle. The third time, the plane rose out of control to a height of approximately 25 feet, and in a steeper angle of climb than previously. It then nosed down at a sharp angle and struck the water violently. The nose of the plane struck the water with such force as to cause the hull to fracture and completely separate at a point just aft of the pilot's compartment. The after portion of the plane, which included passenger compartments A, B, C, and D, pitched forward and came to rest in a nearly inverted position with the forward portion fully submerged.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "Based on the evidence produced through this investigation, loss of control during take-off was found to be the probable cause of the accident."
» CAB File No. 2667-AA