Sikorsky S-38BL "Nicolas Suarez"

Aviation 101             Sikorsky S-38                        


The Sikorsky S-38 was a twin-engine eight-seat amphibious aircraft that was introduced in 1928. Pan American Airways was an early customer, as was the US military. Many of these "flying boats" were also sold to private customers. A total of 101 planes were built.                       

Sikorsky S-38 Amphibious Flying Boat




S-38B Replica  -  Photo: Javier Gonzalez - Iberian Spotters   - 

Three-view diagram of the S-38B 



LAB Sikorsky S-38B Amphibious Aircraft Fleet - 

Detailed Histories and Photos of Two Aircraft Operated by Lloyd Aereo Boliviano                           



                          "Nicolas Suarez"  


Excellent photo of "Nicolas Suarez" from the following website:




Sikorsky S-38BL                  c/n  114-15                

"Nicolas Suarez"   -  Photo: 




Built by Sikorsky Manufacturing Co. of Stratford, CT                                                                1930  


Hughes Products Co.                                    NC-24V                                                       15 Sep 1932  


Howard Hughes                                                  "                                                                         1933  

     - his personal "flying yacht"                                                                                                              


LAB                                                         not given Bolivian reg. no.                               14 Dec 1933

     - named (baptized) "Nicolas Suarez"                                                                                                


Accident                                                                                                                             10 Oct 1941


     The aircraft took off from Trinidad with the destination being Guayaramerin. Student pilot L. Veltze was at the controls supervised by LAB Chief Pilot Emilio Beltran; one passenger was on board. Upon approach for a water landing on the Rio Mamore at Guayaramerin, an error by the pilot caused the amphibious craft to crash into the river. All three occupants perished.





Howard Hughes at the controls of his S-38BL  -  reg. NC-24V 



    Excellent article from AviacionBoliviana.Net on this type of aircraft that was used in Bolivia. 












                             "El Marihui"                               



"El Marihui" operated by Bol-Inca Mining Corp.   -  Photo: Frank Rezich -  



Sikorsky S-38B                   c/n  114-11                  




Built by Sikorsky Manufacturing Co. at Stratford, CT                                                                   1929


Colonial Western Airways                              NC-9138                                                                 1929

     - New York                                                                                                                                        




Poster from 1929 advertising flights over Niagara Falls
From Bjorn Larsson / Craig Morris Collections 





Colonial Air Transport                                          "                                                               1930-1932

     - Boston                                                                                                                                              


American Airways                                                "                                                                         1933

     - New Jersey                                                                                                                                      

     - became American Airlines in 1934                                                                                                


Air Engineers Inc.                                                 "                                                                         1934


Bol-Inca Mining Corp.                                                                                                              Jun 1934

      - New York                                                                                                                                        

      - aircraft named "El Marihui"                                                                                                                         - one of three S-38B aircraft operated by Bol-Inca Mining Corp.                                                    


"El Marihui" sinking   -   Photo:

LAB                                                                                                                                           Jan 1935




Accident                                                                                                                               27 Sep 1935


     In an attempt to fly from Todos Santos to Cochabamba "El Marihui" crashed into a mountain in the vicinity of Colquiri. The only occupants of the aircraft were the two crew members who survived the crash, but with injuries. The aircraft was destroyed. This is only part of an interesting story that you can find (in Spanish) at the above link from AviacionBoliviana.Net.                                                                                                                                                                      






Croatian pilot Drago Balzareno alongside one of the S-38Bs in Cochabamba 
-  Photo: 




If you enjoy this section of early LAB aircraft,

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