48 Years ago today: On 22 July 1973 a Pan American World Airways Boeing 707-321B crashed into the sea near Papeete; killing 78 out of 79 occupants.

Date:Sunday 22 July 1973
Type:Silhouette image of generic B703 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 707-321B
Operator:Pan American World Airways (Pan Am)
First flight:1966
Total airframe hrs:27314
Engines:Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3B
Crew:Fatalities: 10 / Occupants: 10
Passengers:Fatalities: 68 / Occupants: 69
Total:Fatalities: 78 / Occupants: 79
Aircraft damage:Destroyed
Aircraft fate:Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:3 km (1.9 mls) NE off Papeete-Faaa Airport (PPT), Tahiti (   French Polynesia)
Phase:En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Papeete-Faaa Airport (PPT/NTAA), French Polynesia
Destination airport:Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX/KLAX), United States of America

PanAm flight PA816 was a regular flight from Auckland (AKL) to Los Angeles (LAX) with an intermediate stop at Papeete, Tahiti (PPT).
Boeing 707 “Clipper Winged Racer” took off from runway 04 at Papeete-Faaa Airport for it’s second leg of the flight. The airplane climbed to a height of 300 feet and initiated a left turn. It began to descend with an excessive bank turn and struck the sea. The wreckage sank into the 700 m deep waters off Papeete. Both CVR and FDR were not recovered.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: Unknown. It is considered possible that an instrument failure may have diverted the crew’s attention during the turn. Since it was dark outside and the turn was made towards the sea. No visual references were available.