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Author Topic: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared  (Read 20704 times)

Jeff Victor Hayden

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Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« on: May 24, 2013, 08:00:26 PM »

A great little story for sure and, how strange.

"On August 2nd 1947, a British civilian version of the wartime Lancaster bomber took off from Buenos Aires airport on a scheduled flight to Santiago. There were 5 crew and 6 passengers on board the plane - named "Stardust". But Stardust never made it to Santiago. Instead it vanished when it was apparently just a few minutes from touchdown. One final strange morse code radio message - "STENDEC" - was sent, but after that nothing more was heard from the plane.

Despite a massive search of the Andes mountains no trace of the plane was ever found. For 53 years the families of those who disappeared have not known what happened to their loved ones.

But earlier this year the plane suddenly reappeared on a glacier high up in the Andes, more than 50 km's from the area where the plane was last reported. In February this year the Argentine army arranged a major expedition to visit the crash site beneath the massive Tupangato peak (6800m). Their aim was to bring back the human remains which had been found at the site, so that an attempt could be made at identifying them. The expedition also offered a unique opportunity for crash investigators to see if they could finally explain what happened to the ill-fated plane."

Eventually lost planes find their way back somehow, no matter how long it takes.

http://youtu.be/LadZFd-L0Qo
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Matt Revington

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2013, 06:31:20 AM »

The most interesting thing about this case to me was that the pilots radioed they would be landing in 4 minutes apparently believing they were close to the airport when in fact they were many miles east still over the Andes, it reminds of AE radioing to the Itasca "we must right on you" (I don't have the exact quote in front of me).  These pilots were experienced WWII pilots flying a modified Lancaster ( the same plane they had logged hundreds of hours in  during the war) but they didn't understand the winds they encountered at high altitudes (jet stream) and didn't have any ground reference points due to cloud cover, they must not have had celestial sightings either so they misjudged their location and flew their plane into the side of mountain. This was 10 years after AE's flight when navigation should have been more advanced. Its clear that AE's belief that she must  near Howland could have been just as mistaken if she had encountered stronger than anticipated winds ( I know that she was too low for the jet stream).
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2013, 06:37:27 AM »

Some similarities Matt for sure. Despite searching the area the plane went down in, nothing could be seen due to the circumstances of the crash. Plane caused an avalanche and hid it from view was the theory. Plane swept off reef and hid it from view?
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2013, 08:52:49 AM »

Some more interesting reading Star Dust
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Charlie Chisholm

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2013, 10:06:32 AM »

Its clear that AE's belief that she must be near Howland could have been just as mistaken if she had encountered stronger than anticipated winds ( I know that she was too low for the jet stream).

There is a wind study somewhere on the site that proposes she ran into headwinds she did not know about, and probably ended up at least west of, and probably also south of, Howland, before following the LOP.

I believe AE was very close to Howland, probably just out of visual range. That could have been ten miles or less given the likely broken cloud cover at the time. This based on very strong signals on that transmission and also how late she was for the rendezvous. If she was that close, yet still west of Howland, the 157/337 line would have brought her within visual range of Gardner, yet just outside of visual range of McKean (which explains why they didn't end up on McKean).

There has been a major alternative theory in the forum about AE conducting a box search, after her last transmission, beginning with the LOP as the first leg of the box search. What is never addressed is the large amount of time that transpired between her expected arrival time and the transmission "we must be on you but cannot see you". It is probably a significantly longer amount of time than it would take due to headwinds. I believe she was probably conducting a box search during that time, not after her final transmission.

In her last transmission, her words are recorded in the log as "we are flying on the line north and south". If she actually said "we are flying on the line north then south", it all makes sense. The two words would sound very similar, especially on her overmodulated radio. It would be their last attempt to find Howland. They probably didn't know for sure if they were north or south of Howland, so they would naturally follow the LOP first north, then, if Howland were not found, they would likely fly south along the LOP because they knew there were islands down there.

All conjecture, of course, but I believe that is precisely what happened.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 10:12:11 AM by Charlie Chisholm »
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2013, 12:07:39 PM »

Thanks for the link Chris, excellent reading. I believe the same problem of headwinds fooled the crew of a Uruguyan air force plane taking a rugby team to Chile many years back. The film Alive is the story of the accident.
STENDEC, many theories...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSAA_Star_Dust_accident#STENDEC

Incidentally BSAA lost two more airliners in the Bermuda triangle  :o

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Chris Johnson

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2013, 12:10:48 PM »

Come on Jeff! There is no Bermuda Triangle - is there?  :o
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2013, 03:07:10 PM »

Come on Jeff! There is no Bermuda Triangle - is there?  :o

Of course not Chris, it's more of a parallelogram  ;)
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2013, 11:32:22 AM »

This story about the glacier disgorging the aircraft after time reminded me of this 'Eccentric Englishman' Maurice Wilson who's mortal remains have re appeared a number of times on Everest due to the movements of its Glaciers.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 11:35:05 AM by Chris Johnson »
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John Balderston

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2013, 12:18:50 PM »

. . .the pilots radioed they would be landing in 4 minutes apparently believing they were close to the airport when in fact they were many miles east still over the Andes. . .

I'm watching the BBC program now - really interesting!  One similar crash with special relevance to us AE searchers, in Jan. 1943 Pan American Airways' "Philippine Clipper" slammed into the Sierra Nevada mountains close to Boonville, Calif.  "Philippine Clipper" was one of PAA's three Martin M-130 flying boats that flew weekly transpacific service between the U.S. and China - the routes pioneered with chief navigator Fred Noonan in 1935.  After Dec. 7, 1941 operations were limited to the "shuttle" between San Fran and Hawaii (if you can call 2,400 miles at 120 mph in an unpressurized radial-engine assemblage of aluminum a shuttle. . .).  The crash was 100+ miles NNW of San Francisco.  The accident report describes that the clipper arrived at SF in early morning darkness in very bad weather, and was heading back out over the Pacific to hold for better landing conditions.  Capt. Elzey reported flying a heading of 270 deg., but 60-80 mph winds out of the SSW made his course close to due north.  Several witnesses saw the clipper barely above tree-top height at normal cruising speed.  Philippine Clipper crashed in a slight descent - probably letting down below the overcast to see the water. . .
John Balderston TIGHAR #3451R
 
« Last Edit: August 02, 2013, 02:42:25 PM by John Balderston »
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2013, 02:17:30 PM »

Today is the anniversary of the crash.  Can't find a copy of the picture but always remember seeing the 'manicured hand' that was found still poised as if holding a nice cup of tea :(
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Gus Rubio

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2013, 02:32:00 PM »

This crash has always interested me.  This is *a* pic of a hand, not sure if it's manicured or not:

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Chris Johnson

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2013, 02:36:33 PM »

Hi Gus,

think that's the one but from further away.  My mind see's a close up.

Thanks :)
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Vanished: The Plane That Disappeared
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2013, 08:09:28 PM »

Yes Gus, human remains were recovered. The Argentine army volunteer expedition to the glacier did a wonderful job and showed great respect throughout the recovery operation. A rememberance service was held on site for the dead by the Argentine chaplain and the Argentine troops. Hard to believe there was ever a Falklands war, much respect to the Argentine armed forces for this.


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