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.

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
DateMarch 16, 1969 (1969-03-16)
SummaryShort runway with faulty temperature sensors, and pilot error due to calculations of incorrect information leading to overloading of aircraft
SiteMaracaibo, Venezuela
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
StopoverAeropuerto Grano de Oro, 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.[1]


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.


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[2] 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.[3]


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.[4] 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.

After the tragedy, the Venezuelan authorities sped up the construction of the new Maracaibo airport, which was designed with a longer runway and was located outside the city, in order to avoid similar accidents. The new airport was inaugurated eight months later.

Notable peopleEdit

One of the people who perished in the Viasa Flight 742 crash was San Francisco Giants pitching prospect Néstor Chávez.[5]


  1. ^ Accident description for YV-C-AVD at the Aviation Safety Network
  2. ^ Crashed plane said overloaded
  3. ^ Gero, David (1996). Aviation Disasters Second Edition. Patrick Stephens Limited. p. 88.
  4. ^ Disasters: The Worst Ever(subscription required)
  5. ^ Zimniuch, Fran (2007). The Untimely Deaths of Baseball's Stars and Journeymen. First Taylor Trade Publishing. pp. 23–24.

Coordinates: 10°41′38″N 71°38′13″W / 10.694°N 71.637°W / 10.694; -71.637