1947 BSAA Avro Lancastrian Star Dust accident


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Stardust was a british south american airways aero Lancastrian airliner which crashed into mount tupa notto in the argentine andes on august 2nd 1947 during a flight from buenos aires to santiago chile a comprehensive search of a wide area was fruitless and the fate of the aircraft and occupants remained unknown for over 50 years an investigation in 2000 after wreckage of GA GWh had been found determined the crash was caused by weather related factors but until then speculation had included theories of international intrigue into corporate sabotage and even abduction by aliens in the late 1990s pieces of wreckage from the missing aircraft began to emerge from the glacial ice it is now assumed that the crew became confused as to their exact location while flying at high altitudes through the jet stream mistakenly believing they had already cleared the mountaintops they started their descent when they were in fact still behind cloud covered peaks and Stardust crashed into mount upon Otto killing all aboard and burying itself in snow and ice the last word in Stardust’s final morse code transmission to Santiago Airport stends was received by the airport control tower four minutes prior to its planned landing and repeated twice it has never been satisfactorily explained background Stardust carried six passengers and a crew of five on its final flight the captain reginald cook was an experienced Royal Air Force pilot with combat experience during World War II a gyro as were his first officer Nouman Hilton cook and second officer donald chekalin reginald cook had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Flying Cross the radio operator Dennis hammer also had a record of wartime as well as civilian service the crew also included iris Evans a flight attendant or star girl who had previously served in the women’s Royal Naval Service the passengers were kasih sudah kala a Palestinian returning home to Chile from a visit to his dying mother kutiman Harrell / businessmen Peter young an agent for Dunlop Paul Simpson a British civil servant and Marta limpet a Chilean resident of German origin who had been stranded in Germany during the war along with her husband Halle is said to have had a diamond with him limpet was bringing her dead husband’s ashes with her and Simpson was functioning as a king’s messenger with diplomatic documents destined for the British Embassy in Santiago Stardust’s last flight was the final leg of BSA a flight CS 59 which had started in London on an Avro York named star mist on July 29th 1947 landing in Buenos Aires on August 1st Marta limpet was the only one of the six passengers known for certain to have initially boarded star mist in London before changing aircraft in Buenos Aires to continue on to Santiago with the other passengers disappearance the flight left Buenos Aires at one point for p.m.

On August 2nd and was apparently uneventful until the radio operator sent a routine message in Morse code to the airport in Santiago at p.m. announcing an expected arrival of p.m. however Stardust never arrived no more radio transmissions were received by the airport and intensive efforts by both Chilean and Argentine search teams as well as by other BSAA pilots failed to uncover any trace of the aircraft or of the people on board the head of BSAA air vice-marshal Don Bennett personally directed an unsuccessful five day search a report by an amateur radio operator who claimed to have received a faint SOS signal from Stardust initially raised hopes that there might have been survivors but all subsequent attempts over the years to find the vanished flight failed in the absence of any hard evidence numerous theories arose a euro including rumors of sabotage speculation that the flight might have been blown up to destroy diplomatic documents being carried by passenger Paul Simpson or even the suggestion that Stardust might have been taken or destroyed by a UFO discovery of wreckage and reconstruction of the crash in 1998 two Argentine Mountaineers climbing Mount to pinedo a euro about 60 miles west-southwest of Mendoza City and about 50 miles east of Santiago a euro found the wreckage of a Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engine along with twisted pieces of metal and shreds of clothing in the tupa notto glacier at an elevation of 15,000 feet in 2000 an Argentine army expedition found additional wreckage EA euro including a propeller and will seguro and noted that the wreckage was well localized a fact which pointed to a head-on impact with the ground and which also ruled out a mid-air explosion human remains were also recovered including three torsos a foot in an ankle boot and a manicured hand by 2002 the bodies of five of the eight British victims had been identified through DNA testing a recovered propellers showed that the engine had been running at near cruising speed at the time of the impact additionally the condition of the wheels proved that the undercarriage was still retracted suggesting controlled flight into terrain rather than an attempted emergency landing during the final portion of Stardust’s flight heavy clouds would have blocked visibility of the ground it has therefore been suggested that in the absence of visual sightings of the ground due to the clouds a large navigational error could have been made as the aircraft flew through the jet stream armor hero a phenomenon not well understood in 1947 in which high-altitude winds can blow at high speed and directions different from those of winds observed at ground level if the airliner which had to cross the Andes mountain range at 24,000 feet had entered the jet streams only a gyro which in this area normally blows from the west and southwest resulting in the aircraft encountering the headwind a gyro this would have significantly decreased the aircraft’s ground speed mistakenly assuming their ground speed to be faster than it really was the crew may have deduced that they had already safely crossed the Andes and so commenced their descent to Santiago whereas in fact they were still a considerable to the east-northeast and were approaching the cloud shrouded to pan Auto glacier at high speed some bsaa pilots however have expressed skepticism at this theory convinced the cook would not have started his descent without a positive indication that he had crossed the mountains they have suggested that strong winds may have brought down the craft in some other way one of the pilots recalled that we had all been warned not to enter cloud over the mountains as the turbulence and icing pose too great of threat a similar set of events to those that doomed Stardust also caused the crash of Uruguayan Air Force flight 571 in 1972 though there were survivors from that crash because it involved a glancing blow to a mountainside rather than the head-on collision Stardust is likely to have flown into a nearly vertical snow field near the top of the glacier causing an avalanche that buried the wreckage within seconds and concealed it from searchers as the compressed snow turned to ice the wreckage would have been incorporated into the body of the glacier with fragments emerging many years later and much farther down the mountain between 1998 and 2000 about 10% of the wreckage emerged from the glacier prompting several reexaminations of the accident more debris is expected to emerge in future not only as a result of normal Glacial motion but also as the glacier melts a 2000 Argentine Air Force investigation clued Captain Cook of any blame concluding that the crash had resulted from a heavy snowstorm and very cloudy weather as a result of which the crew are unable to correct their positioning stends the last Morse code message sent by Stardust was ETA Santiago five hours stank the Chilean Air Force radio operator at the Santiago Airport described this transmission as coming in loud and clear but very fast as he did not recognize the last word he requested clarification and heard stand repeated twice in succession before contact with the aircraft was lost this word has not been definitively explained and is given rise to much speculation II euro including suggestions that the aircraft and those aboard could have been the victims of a UFO encounter the staff of the BBC television series hores only gyro which presented an episode in 2000 on the Stardust disappearance a hero received hundreds of messages from viewers proposing explanations of stank these included suggestions that the radio operator possibly suffering from hypoxia had scrambled the word descent that stank may have been the initials of some obscure phrase all that the airport radio operator had Monsieur the Morse code transmission despite it reportedly having been repeated multiple times the horizon staff concluded that with the possible exception of some misunderstanding based on Morse code none of these proposed solutions was plausible in the absence of new clues the meaning of stank is likely to remain a mystery see also BSA a star tiger disappearance BSA a star aerial disappearance notes Francis Reina J Stardust fooling the story of the plane that vanished doubleday ISBN 0 – 300 85 – 60,000 226 x external links BBC horizon programme on the Stardust accident PBS Nova program aerial photo of the two Panaro area accident description at the aviation safety Network Ministry of Civil Aviation official report on the accident 1948 over the Andes in 1946 flight article on the BSAA route

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