When we look for an Explanation into the Crash and Loss of the STAR DUST, THERE ARE A FEW THINGS THAT CAN BE ACCEPTED AS FACTUAL, EVEN WITH THE LIMITED INFORMATION WE HAVE.
- THE FLIGHTS COURSE WOULD HAVE TAKEN THEM OVER THE ANDES
- TO FLY ABOVE THE MOUNTAINS, AND THE CLOUD COVER, THEY
WOULD HAVE CLIMBED TO 24,000 FEET.
- UNFORTUNATELY, AT THIS ATTITUDE THE STAR DUST COULD HAVE ENTERED THE JET STREAM, WHICH MAY HAVE PRODUCED A SIGNIFICANT HEADWIND. THIS WOULD REDUCE THE AIRCRAFTS GROUND SPEED TO A MAJOR DEGREE.
- IF THERE ARE NO VISUAL CUES DUE TO CLOUD COVER, THE CREW WOULD HAVE USED "DEAD- RECKONING NAVIGATION" TO ASCERTAIN THEIR POSITION.
IN THE SIMPLEST FORM THE CALCULATION WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS:
Distance = Speed x Time.
However, the AIR SPEED OF THE STAR DUST WOULD HAVE DIFFERED FROM THE GROUND SPEED, DUE TO THE AFFECTS OF THE JET STREAM. THIS COULD HAVE RESULTED IN A NAVIGATIONAL ERROR, IN WHICH THE CREW BELIEVED THAT THEY HAD TRAVELED A CERTAIN DISTANCE, WHEN IN FACT, THE ACTUAL MILES COVERED WOULD HAVE BEEN LESS.
This leaves us with a possible solution as to the Cause of the Crash:
THE STAR DUST BEGAN ITS DESCENT INTO SANTIAGO, CHILE, BECAUSE THE CREW BELIEVED THEY HAD ALREADY CLEARED THE ANDES. HOWEVER, THIS WAS NOT THE CASE, AND IT CRASHED INTO THE MT. TUPUNGATO GLACIER.
We must remember, that a Routine Radio Message was sent by Radio Operator Harmer, at 5:41pm, giving an estimated arrival Time of 5:45pm. This gives us a Reasonable Indication of where the Crew believed They were at the Time. Other Evidence such as the RETRACTED WHEELS AND THE CONDITION OF THE PROPELLERS, POINTS TO THE STAR DUST OPERATING NORMALLY WHEN IT HIT THE GLACIER. Over Time, along with the Natural Processes that Occur on the Glacier, the Wreckage Moved Down to the 15,000 ft level of MT. TUPUNGATO, WHERE IT WAS FOUND BY THE MOUNTAINEERS.
IN THE END, IT WAS A TRAGIC SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES, AND A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE AFFECTS OF THE JET STREAM ON AIR TRAVEL THAT LED TO THE CRASH. FLYING THESE ROUTES WAS A RELATIVELY RECENT DEVELOPMENT, SO THERE WERE NOT A LARGE NUMBER OF AVIATORS WITH EXPERIENCE IN NAVIGATING THROUGH, AND AROUND THE ANDES.
Over Time, Flight Data and Atmospheric Research resulted in Newer and More Accurate Information about Flying in the Jet Stream, but in the early years of Global Travel such Accidents were Inevitable.