star code

Star Dust (registration G-AGWH) was a British South American Airways (BSAA) Avro Lancastrian airliner which crashed into Mount Tupungato in the Argentine Andes on 2 August 1947, during a flight from Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile.

A comprehensive search of a wide area (including what is now known to have been the crash site) was fruitless, and the fate of the aircraft and its occupants remained unknown for over 50 years, giving rise to various conspiracy theories about its disappearance.

In the late 1990s, pieces of wreckage from the missing aircraft began to emerge from the glacial ice.

It is now believed that the crew became confused as to their exact location while flying at high altitudes through the (then poorly understood) jet stream.

Mistakenly believing they had already cleared the mountain tops, they started their descent when they were in fact still behind cloud-covered peaks, and Star Dust crashed into Mount Tupungato, killing all aboard and burying itself in snow and ice.

Final Morse code transmission to Santiago airport, "STENDEC", was received by the airport control tower four minutes before its planned landing and repeated twice; it has never been satisfactorily explained.

The aircraft, an Avro 691 Lancastrian 3, was built as constructor's number 1280 for the Ministry of Supply to carry 13 passengers, and first flew on 27 November 1945.

Its civil certificate of airworthiness (Cof A) number 7282 was issued on 1 January 1946.

It was delivered to BSAA on 12 January 1946, was registered on 16 January as G-AGWH and given the individual aircraft name "Star Dust".

Star Dust carried six passengers and a crew of five on its final flight.

The captain, Reginald Cook, was an experienced Royal Air Force pilot with combat experience during World War II—as were his first officer, Norman Hilton Cook, and second officer, Donald Checklin.

Reginald Cook had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).