British South American Airways' Avro Lancastrian Mk.III, G-AGWH, R.M.A. Star Dust.

Posted by Dr Morris K Jessup

On August 2, 1947, the British South American Airways plane, Lancastrian Star Dust, mysteriously vanished on a flight over the Andes. It would not have been so surprising if the craft had disappeared in the high peaks of the Andes, but – she was due to land at the airport at Santiago, Chile, at 5:45 PM, she sent out a signal stating her time of arrival. That is just four minutes from the airport, almost within sight of the control tower.

At the end of the message came a word "Stendec," loud and clear and given out very fast. The Chilean Air Force operator, at Santiago, queried the word which he did not understand. He heard it twice repeated by the plane. No explanation of the word has ever been found.

Nothing further was heard from the plane although calls were sent out. The plane never arrived, and from that day to this the mystery has never been solved. Searchers were made by ski troops and planes and by skilled mountaineers and automobiles over an area of 250 square miles, in vain. That plane carried a crew of five men and there were six passengers. The pilot, Captain R. J. Cook, had crossed the Andes eight times as second pilot. Four minutes from the landing strip – what happened?
Actually, the wreckage was found in 1998. Investigators determined that the airliner had flown into the glacier at high speed. However, the mystery of the final radio message remains. The last Morse code message sent by Star Dust was:


Posted by Brian Dunning
All kinds of people have made all kinds of guesses about what STENDEC might have meant. None of them are very convincing.
Dr. Carlos Bauzá, the crash investigator, has remarked: "We have consulted everyone who flew these planes and even appealed through the British press to see if any pilots who flew these aircraft could explain whether s-t-e-n-d-e-c was a code word or something to do with weather conditions, or give us any information at all. We couldn't find the answer. I think that in the end s-t-e-n-d-e-c is going to be the final unsolved mystery in the story of 'Stardust'."
The Mystery of STENDEC