Viasa Flight 742

Viasa Flight 742 was an international, scheduled passenger flight from Caracas, Venezuela to Miami International Airport with an intermediate stopover in Maracaibo, Venezuela that crashed on 16 March 1969. After taking off on the Maracaibo to Miami leg, the DC-9-30 hit a series of power lines before crashing into the La Trinidad section of Maracaibo. All 84 people on board perished, as well as 71 on the ground.[1]

Viasa Flight 742
Douglas DC-9-14 YV-C-AVR Viasa MIA 08.02.71 edited-2.jpg
A Viasa DC-9 similar to the accident aircraft
Date16 March 1969 (1969-03-16)
SummaryShort runway with faulty temperature sensors, and pilot error due to calculations of incorrect information leading to overloading of aircraft
SiteGrano de Oro Airport, Maracaibo, Venezuela
10°41′38″N 71°38′13″W / 10.694°N 71.637°W / 10.694; -71.637Coordinates: 10°41′38″N 71°38′13″W / 10.694°N 71.637°W / 10.694; -71.637
Total fatalities155
Aircraft typeMcDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
IATA flight No.VA742
ICAO flight No.VIA742
Call signViasa 742
Flight originSimón Bolívar International Airport, Caracas
StopoverGrano de Oro Airport, Maracaibo
DestinationMiami International Airport, Miami, Florida
Ground casualties
Ground fatalities71


The DC-9 involved in the crash was on lease from Avensa and had only been in service for a month. It was only three months old at the time of the accident and was powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7 turbofan engines.[1][2][3]


The first leg of the flight, from Caracas to Maracaibo, carried 57 people; 42 passengers and 10 crew members. The flight crew of the first leg consisted of two captains: Harry Gibson and Emiliano Savelli Maldonado.

The aircraft arrived at Maracaibo at 10:30. There captain Gibson disembarked and captain Maldonado became the pilot in command. The new first officer was Jose Gregorio Rodriguez Silva. 27 more passengers boarded the aircraft, which was loaded with 12,000 kilograms (26,000 lb) of jet fuel.[4][5]

Flight 742 began its takeoff roll at 12:00. As the DC-9 headed toward Ziruma, it failed to gain altitude, and the plane's left engine struck a power pole. As the plane banked left, a reflector struck the fuel tank, spilling fuel. After hitting another power pole, the plane's left wing was ripped off the plane and the left engine exploded into flames. The plane crashed in a small park in La Trinidad. The impact was so hard that the right engine was torn off the plane and impacted a house.[4][5]

Notable peopleEdit

One of the people who perished in the Viasa Flight 742 crash was San Francisco Giants pitching prospect Néstor Chávez.[6]


The cause of the crash was attributed to faulty sensors along the runway and take-off calculations made from erroneous information, which resulted in an aircraft being overloaded by more than 5,000 pounds[7] for the prevailing conditions. Only two days after the crash, Venezuela's Public Works Minister ascribed runway length as a contributing factor in the disaster.[8]


Flight 742 was the first loss of a DC-9-30, and it remains the deadliest accident involving that type of aircraft. It was also the deadliest accident in Venezuela until West Caribbean Airways Flight 708 (operated by a McDonnell Douglas MD-80, the DC-9's successor aircraft) crashed over thirty-six years later. At the time, the crash was the world's deadliest civil air disaster.[9] The fatality total was surpassed in 1971 by All Nippon Airways Flight 58, which killed 162 people after colliding with an F-86 fighter jet.


  1. ^ a b Ranter, Harro. "Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 YV-C-AVD Maracaibo". Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  2. ^ "YV-C-AVD VIASA - Venezolana Internacional de Aviacion McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30". Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  3. ^ "Registration Details For YV-C-AVD (VIASA - Venezolana Internacional de Aviacion) DC-9-32". PlaneLogger. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b Villareal, Jaime (20 July 2008). "Historia: Vuelo "742" de Viasa, la tragedia del avión caído en Maracaibo" [History: Flight "742" of Viasa, the tragedy of the plane crashed in Maracaibo] (in Spanish). GiraEnLaRed. Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b Párraga, Luis (13 March 2008). "39 años de la tragedia de La Trinidad" [39 years after the tragedy of La Trinidad] (in Spanish). Version Final. Archived from the original on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  6. ^ Zimniuch, Fran (2007). The Untimely Deaths of Baseball's Stars and Journeymen. First Taylor Trade Publishing. pp. 23–24.
  7. ^ "Crashed plane said overloaded". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. 12 July 1969. Retrieved 4 March 2021 – via Google News.
  8. ^ Gero, David (1996). Aviation Disasters Second Edition. Patrick Stephens Limited. p. 88.
  9. ^ "Disasters: The Worst Ever". TIME. 9 August 1971. Archived from the original on 1 February 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2021.