Aviation Accident Report: Pan American incident near Maracaibo, Venezuela on 24 July 1940

Aviation Accident Report: Pan American incident near Maracaibo, Venezuela on 24 July 1940  (1941) 
by the Civil Aeronautics Board




May 24, 1941



An accident occurring near Maracaibo, Venezuela, South America on July 24, 1940, was caused when the pilot lost control of the aircraft while taxying to the loading ramp, the Civil Aeronautics Board reported today.

The aircraft, operated by Pan American Airways, Inc., New York, New York, was a Douglas DC3A-S1C3G, NC 25657, powered by Pratt & Whitney engines S1C3G left motor 251.43 horsepower - right motor 251.43 horsepower. The crew was as follows:

Captain Clifton Verne George with 3844.32 flying hourse
First Officer Robert Rene Delareuelle with 1695 hours
Radio Operator Michael H. McFarlan
Flight Steward John Tendick
Passengers Frank Weiss of Carapito, Venezuela -
Pierre Bayle, Maracaibo, Venezuela -

Jose del Carmon Carrasquero, a native employee of Pan American Airways, was fatally injured when struck by a propeller as the Douglas airplane was being taxied to the loading ramp at the Maracaibo Airport, Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Subsequent investigation disclosed that the flight crew had discovered a leakage of hydraulic fluid from the vicinity of the hydraulic system pressure gauge shortly before arriving at Coro, the last intermediate stop before Maracaibo. The leakage apparently stopped when the hydraulic pressure decreased upon lowering the landing gear. The landing at Coro had been effected and the indicated 500 pounds pressure remaining on the hydraulic system had sufficed to decelerate the airplane in a normal manner. The flight crew elected to continue the flight to Maracaibo, the terminus of the day's flight, with the landing gear remaining extended.

Upon arrival at Maracaibo a normal landing was made during which landing flaps and cowl flaps operated normally. After completing the landing roll the brakes were tested and found to function normally, whereupon the pilot slowly taxied toward the passenger platform located in front of the hangar. This necessitated a movement in a southerly direction with a crosswind from the East. To keep the aircraft from weathercocking to the left into the wind, the tail wheel was locked in a neutral position and the left engine operated under greater power than the right.

Arriving on the apron in front of the hangar, the tail wheel was unlocked to permit the aircraft to be turned to the right with the tail toward the hanger doors which was the usual unloading position. However, immediately upon unlocking the tail wheel the aircraft began to weathercock slowing to the left toward the closed hangar doors where three men of the servicing crew were standing. Brakes were applied but were found to be inoperative. The pilot cut the master switch and the master controllers were moved to the idle cut-off position. The left wing tip struck the hanger first, swinging the aircraft further to the left and toward the servicing crew who were directly in the path of the left propeller which was still turning from its momentum. Two of the crew jumped clear while the third man was struck by the revolving propeller as he stood watching the left wing tip being crushed against the hanger. He received injuries which proved fatal. The left wing and center nose section of the aircraft was damaged extensively. Inspection of the hydraulic system disclosed that the oil pressure in the brake system was lost due to a broken tube flare at the left cowl flap control valve, thereby rendering the wheel brake mechanism inoperative.

A subsequent investigation disclosed that the fatally injured man had been employed by Pan American Airways, Inc., only twelve days prior to the accident.

PROBABLE CAUSE: Pilot lost control of aircraft while taxying to loading ramp due to cross wind and inoperative wheel brakes.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).