Pacific Ocean, HI, CA Airliner Goes Down In Ocean, Nov 1957

A Pan Am Stratocruiser identical to Flight 7.

NAVY HUNTS PLANE CRASH CAUSE; 17 BODIES FOUND.

Honolulu -- AP -- Seventeen broken bodies and recovered wreckage, showing many signs of fire, yelded clues today that a Pan American luxury air liner ditched with shattering force in the ocean a week ago only 23 minutes after making a routine position report.
As a search was pressed for the 27 other occupants of the Honolulu bound air liner, investigators pieced together these bits of evidence:
Twelve of the first 17 bodies recovered had on life jackets -- suggesting the 36 passengers got word to prepare for ditching during the 10,000 foot descent.
Three wrist watches were stopped at 5:27 PM -- only 23 minutes after the plane, Romance Of The Skies, reported her position as 1,028 miles east of Honolulu -- but with never a word of any trouble.

Evidence Of Fire.
The aircraft carrier Philippine Sea reported there was evidence of fire in the considerable debris consisting of mail, cushions and miscellaneous buoyant parts.
The bodies were found yesterday as the carrier combed a more than 100 mile square area 955 miles northeast of Honolulu with a flotilla of small boats picking up the debris.
All the bodies found were shoeless and all had external injuries and multiple fractures.

Time For Warning.
Coast Guard Captain DONALD MacDIARMID said the evidence "indicates the pilot did not have everything go sour suddenly or he would not have had time to warn people to get into jackets and get their shoes off. I would assume the pilot ditched the aircraft."
Removing the shoes is routine pre ditching practice for planes at sea.
The bodies were found 88 miles north of the plane's course to Honolulu. The navy said this was due to natural drift and the time was about right for the bodies to have risen to the surface.

Three Possible Reasons.
A navy officer who has been participating in the search from Pearl Harbor said there could be three reasons why the plane sent no distress signal. "That's the big mystery," said the officer, who declined use of his name. He said there could have been a fire, a propeller could have flown off, or a meteor could have hit the plane.
"He considered the loose propeller the likeliest cause. He said a propeller once came through the fuselage, made a right angle turne and sliced through the entire plane.

The Fresno Bee and Republican California 1957-11-15

Comments

Boeing 377

Unlike it's military sister the KC-97, the 377 had many reliability issues. Of the 50 built, ten were lost in accidents, giving it a 20% mortality rate. The last intact survivor I saw( which was reportedly scrapped later) was in 1987 in a storage area at Tucson (Arizona) International Airport. So sad--people would have loved to see a piece of history like that flying in air shows.
A picture of this plane does exist, along side a 1952 Buick, taken that year which I have seen from time to time in propliner related magazines.