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Home » Missing plane found after 53 years. The story of flight CS59

Missing plane found after 53 years. The story of flight CS59

In 1988, a group of mountaineers came across an incredible discovery while climbing Tupungato Peak in the mountains near the Chile-Argentina border.

The climbers with the airplane wreckage
The climbers with the airplane wreckage, Source: Wikimedia commons

On their way they found the remains of a plane engine, pieces of metal and pieces of clothing, all at an altitude of over 15,000 feet. They notified the authorities, who two years later, in 2000, organised a search for the wreckage of the plane, and what they discovered shocked everyone.

British South American Airways Flight CS59

Missing plane found after 53 years

An Avro Lancastrian aircraft, under the name “Star Dust” took off on August 2, 1947 from Buenos Aires, Argentina, bound for Santiago, Chile. Two days earlier, according to historyofyesterday, the plane had left London, so this flight to Santiago also had European passengers.

The aircraft, Avro 691 Lancastrian was a British and Canadian airliner. It was developed between 1940 and 1950. The airplane was a British bomber used in World War II modified for passenger transport.

The Plane disappears without a trace

Tupungato from the air
Tupungato, Where the plane crashed. Dropus, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On board the plane were 6 passengers, including a British diplomat and 5 crew members. The pilots, led by captain Reginald Cook, were experienced and served in World War II. Shortly before landing, Santiago control tower receives a radio message from Star Dust: “ETA SANTIAGO 17.45 HRS STENDEC”. The control tower operator doesn’t understand the last word so he asks for it to be repeated. “STENDEC” is heard again and then nothing. No radio signal, nothing. The search began, and for several years, nothing was found.

The missing plane was found

The missing plane was found after 53 years, in 2000, when a large search team made up of both Chileans and Argentinians began searching on Mount Tupungato. In their search they found multiple pieces of the plane: an inflated wheel, a propeller and human remains. The crash site has been determined, and it is believed that the plane crashed directly into the mountain, killing everyone on board.

Star Dust Wheel
Dropus, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After 53 years, the reason for the plane’s disappearance has finally been decided. The pilots encountered Jet stream currents about which very little was known at the time. Believing they had crossed the mountain range and were approaching Santiago, Star Dust descended to a lower altitude and crashed directly into Mount Tupungato. However, what is still a mystery after all these years are the last words transmitted over the radio by Star Dust : “STENDEC” which, according to Wikipedia, has no explanation.

If you liked this article, you’ll love our article about the Miracle on the Hudson River .

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3 thoughts on “Missing plane found after 53 years. The story of flight CS59”

  1. If STENDEC follows similar abbreviations used for standard procedures, it would mean:
    STandard
    ENroute
    DEC -Descent
    Signifying a let down from the extreme altitude they had to achieve to safely clear the Andes.

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