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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 16939
Last updated: 10 September 2019
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Time:10:47 LT
Type:Latécoère 300
Owner/operator:Air France
Registration: F-AKGF
C/n / msn: 1
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:South Atlantic Ocean, between Dakar, Senegal, and Natal, Brazil -   Atlantic Ocean
Phase: En route
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Dakar International Airport, Yoff, Dakar, Senegal (DKR/GOOY)
Destination airport:Natal, Brazil
F-AKGF Latecoere 300 (MSN 1); first flown 7.10.32. First registered 9.8.33 (C of R 3475) to Etat Francais; operated by Air France after being delivered 15.1.34; based Saint Louis, Senegal; named “Croix du Sud” ("Southern Cross").

Written off 7.12.36: Aircraft was operating an international scheduled flight (aircraft routed Marseille-Dakar-Natal-Rio de Janeiro). Christened 'Croix du Sud', the aircraft was performing its 25th cross Atlantic flight from France to South America. The trip was officially from Marseille to Rio de Janeiro with two intermediate stops in Dakar (Senegal) and Natal (Brazil).

Less than one hour after it left Dakar, the crew confirmed by radio he was encountering a technical problem with the right rear engine and that he was returning to Dakar. Several controls were made on this engine but an oil leak was detected and the engine must be changed. As no spare engine was available, crew made a complete thorough cleaning and took off again from Dakar at 06:43 LT. Four hours later, the radio station received a short message, where Mermoz reported that he had to cut the power on the aft starboard engine. The message was interrupted abruptly. No further messages were received, and neither the Latécoère 300 nor the crew were ever recovered.

It is assumed that the engine they had tried to repair lost its propeller mid-flight, and being one of the aft engines, the loose propeller either badly damaged or cut the hull entirely, causing the plane to lose its tail and crash instantly. Henri Guillaumet, one of Mermoz's fellow pilots, had encountered the same problem a few months before, but as his own engine was on the forward side, airspeed had been sufficient to maintain the propeller in place until the landing.

SAR teams were deployed, but no trace of the aircraft nor the five crew was ever found. They were thus posted as "missing, presumed killed". Among the crew was the famous French aviator & pioneer Jean Mermoz.

Jean Mermoz, pilot,
Alexandre Pichodou, co-pilot,
Edgar Cruveilher, radio navigator,
Jean Lavidalie, engineer,
Henri Ezan, navigator.

In 1941, the Investigative Commission of Anti-National Activities of the Parliament of Uruguay, after denunciations filed before the Deputy Tomas Brena and Julio Iturbide, arrives at the surprising conclusion of the last two airmail flights of Air France, and with result the death of Collenot first and Mermoz later, they were the result of sabotage of the Nazi Fifth Column (National German Socialist Workers Party operating in Uruguay).

The air mail bags transported the technical and economic proposals for the bidding of the so-called Obra del Río Negro in Uruguay, the international tender carried out in three calls in 1936, for the construction of the Rincón del Bonete hydroelectric plant. The tender only receives Offers or proposals from the Siemens Baunnion and Philipp Holzmann AG consortium in Germany, and SKODA WORKS from Austria. This and other tricks, such as false news and bribes, were used by Nazi Germany, to get rid of the other proposals under way, and force the bidding to be declared void

Registration F-AKGF cancelled as "missing" in October 1937


1. Aeroplane Monthly, March 1990
8. (German text)

Revision history:

30-Mar-2008 05:57 harro Added
23-Nov-2016 18:21 TB Updated [Source]
01-Apr-2019 20:14 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
04-Apr-2019 17:49 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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