British South American Airways' Star Dust Disappears
On August 2, 1947, Stardust's radio operator sent a final message in Morse code to the Chilean radio operator then on duty in Santiago.
The full message sent at 17.41 hrs was as follows:
'ETA [estimated time of arrival] Santiago 17.45 hrs STENDEC'
The final apparently unintelligible word "STENDEC" has been a source of mystery, confusion, and intrigue ever since. So mysterious was the disappearance of the plane—coupled with its final strange message—that Stardust became entwined in UFO theories. The word STENDEC was corrupted into Stendek and became the name of a Spanish UFO magazine.
Went missing over the Andes mountains while on a flight to Buenos Aires. Climbers found the wreckage January 2000 at over 5,000 meters above sea-level on top of Argentina's Tupungato Mountain, close to the Chilean border.
FOR 53 years, a remote peak high in the Andes kept a grim secret.
Now a chance discovery by climbers has ended the mystery of the last flight of the British-owned Star Dust, which disappeared in a storm on August 2, 1947.
The five crew and six passengers on the British South American Airways flight to Santiago, Chile from Buenos Aires, Argentina, have all been missing presumed dead since then.
But now at least three of them will finally receive a proper burial, after their bodies were found, preserved by the permanently freezing temperatures on the 6800m Tupungato peak in Argentina.
An Argentine judge has ordered DNA tests to be performed on the bodies to determine the identities of the three people.
Aircraft experts say the discovery is also a unique piece of aviation history.
Star Dust was a British South American Airways airliner that mysteriously disappeared on 2 August 1947.
Star Dust (registration G-AGWH), was an Avro Lancastrian airliner, a civilian version of the Lancaster bomber of World War II. On flight CS 59, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile, via Mendoza, Argentina, the airliner vanished, and was not located for 50 years.
A comprehensive search of a wide area, including what is now known to have been the crash site, discovered no wreckage. What became of the flight remained a complete mystery for over 50 years. Speculation about the cause and nature of the disappearance of Star Dust included conspiracy theories such as inter-corporate sabotage and abduction by aliens.