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An independent filmmaker, Paul Crompton, based in London, England will be visiting the territory later this month to interview local residents for a documentary about the 1974 crash in American Samoa of a Pan American World Airways plane, which is the worst aviation disaster in the territory’s history.


A total of 91 passengers and crew were onboard the Pan Am 806 flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Los Angeles,  via American Samoa and Hawaii when it crashed short of the runway during its landing approach on Jan. 30, 1974, according to the American Samoa Visitors Bureau, in its January 2014 eNewsletter released over the weekend about the documentary.


This month marks the 40th anniversary of the crash in which 87 people died, says the Visitors Bureau.


In a letter published in Tuesday’s edition of Samoa News, Crompton who is with Barge Pole Productions, says he will be visiting Pago Pago from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 to research the Pan Am crash for a documentary for the families of “those that died who want to know more about the event.”


“I am hoping to meet and talk with people that helped with the recovery of those who survived and also those that perished,” he wrote. “I am reaching out to talk to anyone who was there on the night, who may remember what it was like on the evening of the crash or the following few days.”


“Can anyone tell me when and where the wreckage was buried, or did anyone have relatives on board and are you willing to talk about it on camera,” he said. “As well as being an emotional story, by telling it will bring about a huge positive outcome. I want the surviving relatives to have a document of what happened and to be able to see what it’s really like in American Samoa.”


“So many of them want to come and visit, and maybe this will inspire them, as well as helping them find clarity to a deeply personal story,” he said.


In his email to the Visitors Bureau, Crompton said “I have a friend in London who lost close relatives and has always wanted to understand more about the crash and how it was dealt with afterwards. He has tried to understand as much as he can, but information on the internet and elsewhere is limited.”


Crompton said he has since discovered that there are many others like his friend all over the world, from Canada, Britain, USA, Hawaii, Thailand to New Zealand and Australia, “and they all have one thing in common, they feel like they need to know more.”


Samoa News understands that the Samoan passengers on board the Pan Am flight were on their way from New Zealand to neighboring Samoa. At the time, there were no direct flights between Apia and New Zealand and all flights at that time came through Pago Pago with a connecting Polynesian Airlines flight to Apia.


Crompton can be reached on email: