Mystery of the Star Dust

On August 2nd, 1947, the aircraft “Star Dust” was making its journey to Santiago, Chile. The destination it was leaving however was Buenos Aires, Argentina, which meant it had to fly over the Andes mountain range.


Unfortunately, a jet-stream caught the plane off-guard and brought it fifty miles off course to Tupungato peak; one of the highest peaks in South America. With clouds surrounding the craft, the pilot believed himself to be flying above the Santiago airport and began to make a descent. But before he even dropped the landing gear, the plane hit a glacier on the side of the mountain. Instantly this caused a landslide of snow to cover the crash site. This made it impossible to locate the wreckage until 1998- 2000.

Tupungato in the Andes Mountains
Tupungato in the Andes Mountains

In 1998 a hiking team discovered a Rolls-Royce plane engine at the foot of Mount Tupungato, miles away from any cities or even roads. After two years of planning, the Argentinian army made an expedition to find the wreckage and information about the crash. When they arrived, it was confirmed that it was an accidental wreck. But one mystery remains to this day: the final message of the Star Dust:

. – .- / … .- -. – .. .- –. — / .—- –… .-.-.- ….- ….. / … – . -. -.. . -.-.

The final Morse Code message translates to “ETA SANTIAGO 17.45 STENDEC.” ETA is an acronym for “Estimated Time of Arrival”, but the word STENDEC has never been used in aviation (or much else) before. When the ground operator received the message, he requested the pilot repeat the message. But this didn’t help, the message arrived the same “ETA SANTIAGO 17.45 STENDEC.” To this day, no one knows what this message meant, but there are many theories. Perhaps it was an acronym: “Starting En-Route Descent”? Or maybe the operator misheard the code? Whatever the answer, no one can prove or disprove any theories because there were no survivors in the crash.

One thought on “Mystery of the Star Dust

  1. It seems pretty obvious to me that he was trying to write the word “Descent.”He was probably disoriented when he was typing out the message, not to mention just a wee bit preoccupied trying to save his own life.
    He could have also been slysdexic. hahaha

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