Pan Am Flight 943 Ditching This Boeing 337 Stratocruiser developed engine trouble at the “Point of No Return” between California and Hawaii, back in 1956. The Captain successfully ditched his aircraft in the ocean, with no loss of life. Here is the timeline of events:
The ordeal of Pan Am 943 After losing power on its way from Honolulu to San Francisco in October 1956, Pan Am Flight 943 maintained radio communication with the Coast Guard cutter Pontchartrain in the sea below as it considered a risky ocean landing. Other airplanes and ships relayed some of these messages to the mainland.
3:20 a.m. From PAA 943 to Honolulu: We have a runaway prop. Will call you later.
3:27 a.m. From PAA 943: No. 4 engine also dead and No. 1 still overspeeding. Our No. 4 engine is out cold. Dead at the moment.
3:35 a.m. Relayed by PAA 739 to San Francisco: We will give you the latest dope but it looks bad right now.
4:19 a.m. From Pontchartrain: PAA 943 dumping fuel. Will definitely ditch.
4:47 a.m. Relayed by PAA 25V: PAA 943 is debating decision whether to ditch now or wait until sunrise. Guard ship advises that conditions are excellent now.
5:01 a.m. Relayed by PAA 25V: PAA 943 advising Coast Guard they will definitely have to ditch. Will be unable to make Sfran or Hono with amount of fuel remaining. Still airborne.
5:10 a.m. From Pontchartrain: Clipper 943 now orbiting in area. Considering trying to stay aloft until daylight.
7:57 a.m. From Pontchartrain: He will ditch in approximately 25 minutes.
8:09 a.m. From Pontchartrain: Ditching in five minutes.
8:15 a.m. From Pontchartrain: The plane has ditched. It broke in half on contact.
8:21 a.m. From Pontchartrain: The plane has ditched. Have four rafts in water. Many survivors apparent. Have two rescue boats in water. All possible rescue gear. The plane broke off at the tail.
8:43 a.m. From Pontchartrain: The bow stove in on ditching. Tail sank almost immediately. The plane sank in about 21 minutes. We rescued all survivors aboard. There are 31 survivors.
8:43 a.m. From Pontchartrain: All I can say is ‘Thank God’ and out. Note: All are West Coast times.
Pan Am Flight 6 (registration N90943, and sometimes erroneously called Flight 943) was an American around-the-world commercial passenger flight, that was forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean on October 16, 1956, after the failure of two of its four engines. The service originated in Philadelphia, travelling eastwards around the globe via many stops, with a final scheduled destination at San Francisco. On the evening of October 15, 1956 the flight was operated over its final stages by a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, named “Clipper Sovereign Of The Skies” (Pan Am fleet number 943) and registered N90943.