Santa Barbara Airlines ATR-42-300 plane crash
The ATR 42-300 operated by local airline Santa Barbara took off in good weather from the high-altitude city of Merida, Venezuela, just before dusk bound to
the capital of Caracas. It disappeared from radar a few minutes after take-off. The plane was carrying 43 passengers and three crewmembers. There is no
Once the plane took off, the control tower received no further communication from the pilot. The plane crashed at an altitude 12,000 feet (3,700 meters) against a wall of rock. It was found completely wrecked, smashed against the face of one of the mountains. The twin-engine turboprop went down in a remote area 11 kilometers (seven miles) northeast of the airport in Merida, the main town in the Venezuelan Andes that each year attracts thousands of tourists from around the world.
The pilot was experienced and had specialized training for flying through the Andes: the crews need special training to fly from Merida's airport because the city is so tightly hemmed in by mountains that planes must make steep ascents at takeoff. The high altitude of the airport (5007 feet or 1525 meters) makes it difficult as the plane’s performances are reduced. Visibility at dusk becomes so difficult planes are only allowed to take off during daylight. The ATR 42-300 involved in this accident was the day's last flight out.