What Happened to the Star Dust?

In 1947, the British South American Airways plane Star Dust took off from Buenos Aires, Argentina, with eleven people aboard, destined for Santiago, Chile. But it never arrived.

The passenger list certainly does its part to set the stage for conspiracy theories: A Palestinian returning to Chile from visiting a dying relative, two British businessmen, a high-ranking associate from the Dunlop tire company, a British civil servant delivering important documents to an embassy, and a German-born Chilean resident who had been stranded in Germany during the war.

The flight departed Buenos Aires at 1:46 p.m. on August 2nd, headed over the Andes mountains. Before the airliner’s disappearance, the flight was uneventful. The final transmission from the Star Dust to Santiago’s airport was a Morse code transcription, S-T-E-N-D-E-C, the meaning of which has been debated by experts since 1947. Santiago’s Morse operator asked for clarification, and twice more S-T-E-N-D-E-C came through the wire.

There are many interpretations of the meaning; one hypothesis is that STENDEC was an acronym (Starting En-Route Descent or Severe Turbulence Encountered Now Descending Emergency Crash-landing). Others suggest perhaps the Santiago Morse operator misheard and thus mis-transcribed the code. Still others point out that STENDEC is an anagram of DESCENT. To this day, no one can definitively say what the Star Dust’s Morse operator was intending to say. What is known, is that the Star Dust would not be heard from again.  

A search turned up no clue as to what happened to the Star Dust. In fact, it was a half-century before any wreckage was found at all. Read the story of the the Star Dust and how the mystery was solved fifty years later, at Sometimes Interesting. Link


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