View Full Version : Stardust/ Lady Be Good

22nd Mar 2002, 05:09
It was a fascinating and sobering CFIT program on the Lancastrian Stardust that turned up in the Andes after half a century. . . The final conclusion of the encounter with the Jet Stream reminded me of the Lady Be Good a B25 which had encountered a Jet Stream from the rear when returning to the North African coast after a bombing raid on Italy. . . This had resulted in their overshooting their intended destination and getting ADF station passage early, they carried on into the Libyan sand sea finaly running out of fuel.. . The crew over the course of the next 30 years were found one by one having attempted to walk back to the coast. . . The plane was found in a remarkable state of preservation and I believe certain parts of her were salvaged and used but said to be 'jinxed'.. . Having encountered these low level very strong winds in DC3's over Libya in the wintertime it was a sobering reminder of the days of DR and fairly primitive nav aids and of the pleasure it is to have the modern technology of today. We sadly still have CFIT though.

22nd Mar 2002, 05:23
Agreed, PB - I thought it an excellent program, and have emailed the producer (whom I realised after the prog is an old friend of my sister's) to say so.. .. .Re the "STENDEC" message. One notice on the Horizon website points out it's an anagram of "DESCENT".. .. .Me, I think the answer is in the morse code.. .. .STENDEC:-. .... - . -. -.. . -.-.. .. .STANDBY:-. .... - .- -. -.. -... -.--. .. .For all letters, "STANDBY" has more modulation than "STENDEC". My suspicion is that the transmission was subject to RF interference, either from the WX or from nearby cumulogranite.

22nd Mar 2002, 05:40
A pretty fair guess HugMonster. I had pondered over that one and find your explanation very convincing. . .. . How's the search going,any luck yet?

Kalium Chloride
22nd Mar 2002, 11:56
Wonder if there's really a mystery about the message.. .. .Aircraft was approaching Santiago from the east. Pilot radioed that he would make standard arrival (easterly), and therefore transmitted this routine information to air traffic control:. .. .STAR E, END OF MESSAGE. .. .This is identical in Morse pattern to STENDEC.. .. .In other words, message was sent correctly and copied correctly at air traffic control. Just wasn't read correctly.. . . . <small>[ 23 March 2002, 08:16: Message edited by: Kalium Chloride ]</small>

Kalium Chloride
22nd Mar 2002, 12:03
Here's the evidence:. .. .... - . -. -.. . -.-.. .S T E N D E C. .. .but remembering that .-.-. means "end of message". .. .... - .- .-. . .-.-.. .S T A R E (end message). .. .Exactly the same dot/dash sequence. Given that the programme suggested that everything was normal immediately before the crash, it seems reasonable to suggest that it really was just a routine pre-arrival transmission which the pilot was sending.

22nd Mar 2002, 19:15
Good theory, KC, except that the pilot thought he was approaching from the north, and prevailing winds are westerly.

Hot 'n' High
22nd Mar 2002, 20:14
HugMonster - Maybe KC has a point. . .. .From the prog., it seems they climbed the A/C and then followed a Direct Track rather than flying West and then "hanging a Left" to approach from the North. . .. .This puts the approach from the NE rather than the N - possibly with a view to a Straight In from the East to save time. Not sure of R/W orientation but, if it was something like a 23 arrival, that would seem a sensible plan.. .. .Just an idea! Either way, quite an amazing tale. I'm sure there are many people who are glad this whole crash is one riddle which seems to have been solved.

22nd Mar 2002, 20:22
Another point is that they sent STENDEC twice..... .. .Bloody good doc IMHO!! <img border="0" title="" alt="[Cool]" src="cool.gif" /> . .. .V well done to Argentine Army & crash investigors!! <img border="0" title="" alt="[Cool]" src="cool.gif" /> . .. .-10 degrees centigrade.....brrr.... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> <img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> <img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> . .. .PS: Anyone watch 'Trouble at the Top' after?? Couldn't belive that Girl who falsified her CV.... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Eek!]" src="eek.gif" />. . . . <small>[ 22 March 2002, 15:27: Message edited by: swashplate ]</small>

23rd Mar 2002, 00:30
OK, two good theories about STENDEC I was goofing off never thought of either, simply swallowed the mystery theory and started thinking about six TBM Avengers.

tony draper
23rd Mar 2002, 03:56
I thought those six Avengers had been found a few years back?, . .They still tout the bermuda triangle connection every time a new UFO or Sea Mystery documentry is made.

Kalium Chloride
23rd Mar 2002, 03:57
Bermuda Triangle aside, the thing that caps it for me is that the STENDEC bit came right at the end of a longer trasmission:. .. ."ETA Santiago 17.45hrs STENDEC". .. .This was sent at 17.41, so pilot must have assumed he was four minutes from arrival. In which case, notification of arrival pattern wouldn't seem unreasonable:. .. ."ETA Santiago 17.45hrs STAR E, transmission ends". .. .Just IMHO, of course.

23rd Mar 2002, 04:29
Okay - you swayed me, I can go with that theory. If the Producer ever gets back to me (BOY did he used to fancy my sister <img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> ) I'll pass it all on to him (before I break the sad news that sis is now a happily married mother of two!)

23rd Mar 2002, 08:20
Was there such a thing as a STAR back then ?. .And the 'hrs' would not have been transmitted - superfluous. So ETA 1745ST END AR. ST - Standard Time ?, although END and AR seems like tautology.. .. .I dunno.

23rd Mar 2002, 08:45
If you mean Standard Terminal ARrival, no. The name of the aircraft was Stardust. I believe it belonged to British South American Airways, who named all their aircraft Star something. Star Ariel and Star Tiger were two Tudor IV machines belonging to BSAA that disappeared in the "Bermuda Triangle."

Kalium Chloride
23rd Mar 2002, 12:30
<img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> Hugmonster. .. .And you're right, papertiger, the whole theory rests on whether STAR was in use as an ATC term back then. Haven't yet found anything to suggest it was or wasn't.... . . . <small>[ 23 March 2002, 08:20: Message edited by: Kalium Chloride ]</small>

henry crun
23rd Mar 2002, 13:44
KC, unless you have access to the right historical docs I doubt you will find any reference to when the term was introduced.. .. .I find it hard to imagine that there was sufficient traffic in that part of the world then to warrant their use.. .. .I cannot pin down the dates but I am fairly sure that Stars came after Sids and both of those procedures would have post dated this accident by a fair margin.

23rd Mar 2002, 15:31
STENDEC is an anagram of DESCENT as people already pointed out.. .. .Don't know much about the AC type - they were flying relatively high - is the Lancastrian pressurised ?. .. .daft idea maybe, but perhaps hypoxia induced dyslexia ??

23rd Mar 2002, 15:44
No, the Lancastrian wasn't pressurised. It was a development of the Lancaster bomber. Altitude wouldn't have affected flight crew, as they would have been on oxygen. Dunno if they just let the pax passout! <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

Kalium Chloride
23rd Mar 2002, 15:44
Think you could be right, Henry, unless the term 'standard arrival' was used as a simpler predecessor to the modern 'standard terminal arrival'.. .. .But I've read dozens of (really outlandish) ideas for the "mysterious" message and I'm convinced there's a far simpler explanation.. .. .(1) Star Dust's final ATC transmission was apparently routine, so the bit allegedly reading 'STENDEC' was probably just another ordinary piece of pre-arrival information.. .. .(2) When queried, the same Morse pattern was repeated. So it's not a mistake in the transmission or reception.. .. .(3) The TV documentary indicates that the air crew wasn't aware of impending disaster, so it wasn't a distress call.. .. .(4) STENDEC isn't a standard phrase or abbreviation in aviation, and never has been. Correct me if I'm wrong.. .. .So if you work on the basis of the evidence, you're left with just figuring out what a flight might have normally been relaying a few minutes from touchdown in 1947, which would fit (exactly) the same Morse pattern as 'STENDEC'.. .. .If the radio operator did send an 'end of transmission' code at the end of the message, then this cuts things down a bit more.. .. .Your message now reads ...-.-.-... .. .Can't be many ways to interpret this. 'STAR E' still sounds IMHO like the most plausible.. .. .Why would a radio operator transmit STAR E as part of a regular communication?. .. .If it doesn't refer to 'standard arrival' (as Henry indicates) then I think you have to look at call-sign as an alternative, especially given the name of the aircraft.. .. .Would a scheduled flight have been given a designation such as 'Star Echo' or would ATC have referred to it by registration? <img border="0" title="" alt="[Confused]" src="confused.gif" />

Kalium Chloride
23rd Mar 2002, 15:50
SIR. .. .It's tempting to see the 'descent' anagram. But I think a trained radio operator would be hard-pushed to make that mistake in English, let alone in Morse code...and then make it again, the same way, when asked to repeat.. .. .Ockham's Razor applies here, methinks.

23rd Mar 2002, 22:36
It's an unfortunate red herring that BSAA's aircraft had 'Star...' names. I doubt the crew even knew this particular airplane's moniker. Identification at that time would certainly have been by registration (G-AGWH IIRC), since the use of flight numbers for that purpose came much later. Probably not even a flight plan filed.

23rd Mar 2002, 23:08
I disagree, Tiger. Aircraft names at the time (just after the war, when pilots had been used to flying their "own" aircraft, with names and personalised nose-art) were a much more frequent way of identifying an aircraft that the registration.. .. .I wonder if it was STA (Scheduled time of arrival) rather than STAR... C, I agree, is end of message (the equivalent of "Out" in RT. Still can't explain the RE bit. I've tried turning into something logical in numerals but still can't.. .. .Sorry - scrap that. Here is the bit from the official report:-. .. .----------------------------. .. .1700 hrs. 3250' S. 6830' W. Height 20,000 feet, ascending to 24,000 feet, speed 194 knots, E.T.A. Santiago 1743 hrs.. .. .1733 hrs. E.T.A. Santiago 1745 hrs.. .. .1741 hrs. A signal was sent out by the aircraft, E.T.A. Santiago 1745 hrs. ending with "STENDEC.". .. .The 1741 hrs. signal was received by Santiago only 4 minutes before the E.T.A. The Chilean Air Force operator at Santiago states that the reception of the signal was loud and clear but that it was given out very fast. Not understanding the word "STENDEC" he queried it and had the same word repeated by the aircraft twice in succession.. .. .----------------------------------------. .. .So "STENDEC" was not a message on its own. With transmissions "loud and clear", it is less likely that bits of morse were lost in transmission.. .. .More about "STENDEC" at http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2000/vanished_stendec.shtml. .. .A couple of points there - "V" ...- calls attention to a particular message (or part of a message?) and "EC" . -.-. ends a message. "END" also signifies closing morse transmission, to switch to RT when close to an airport.. .. .Could that part of the message have been V END EC?. .. .That would make the meaning of the whole thing:-. .ETA Santiago 17:45. .*NB* Closing morse transmissions now.. .End of message.. . . . <small>[ 23 March 2002, 18:24: Message edited by: HugMonster ]</small>

23rd Mar 2002, 23:22
Here's the NOVA/WGBH website. . .. .http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/vanished/sten_report.html

23rd Mar 2002, 23:46
Well this predates me by a few years (not going to say how many !), but I have never heard a commercial flight identify itself by anything other than registration (up to mid-60s ?) or flight number. Yes, some companies use cutesy callsigns instead of the airline title, but never an individual aircraft 'name' IME. And from pictures, the Stardust inscription is tiny letters under the cockpit. Not the sort of personalised nose-art that pilot would relate to, I think.. .It is possible they just used 'Star' in the way that BA use(d) 'Speedbird', but again I don't know when that sort of identity came into vogue. . .. .Fascinating stuff though.

I. M. Esperto
24th Mar 2002, 01:03
Actually, Lady Be Good was a B-24.. .. .http://www.qmfound.com/lady_be_good_b-24_bomber_recovery.htm

henry crun
24th Mar 2002, 02:32
HM, your theory sounds to me to be by far the most likely.. .. .Bringing the modern concept of Stars into the discussion is, I feel, a red herring.. .The very structured and precise modern methods of air traffic control simply did not exist then.

24th Mar 2002, 03:52
PaperTiger, if you can find a copy, watch an old move called "Out Of The Clouds" (I have a copy, but unfortunately my video collection is in storage at present).. .. .It features James Robertson Justice and Richard Todd as airline Captains based at Heathrow in the early fifties. Wonderful just to watch for the Constellations and Boeing 377's.. .. .Anyway, no flight numbers in evidence there. It may, of course, be a screenwriter's fantasy, but much of the film was shot at LHR when the only terminal was what is now the Queen's Building, and they had a LOT of assistance from BOAC and Pan Am in the making.. .. .Old phonetic alphabet - "George Willy King" etc. and flights referred to by a/c reg, not flight number. My suspicion is that, to the flight crew, aircraft were known by their names.. .. .Anyway, it ain't relevant much to my latest theory of the V END EC format of the message.. . . . <small>[ 23 March 2002, 23:14: Message edited by: HugMonster ]</small>

24th Mar 2002, 04:31
'Out of the Clouds', Hug :. .http://www.britmovie.co.uk/studios/ealing/filmography/81.html. .. .Yep no flight numbers until the 1960s, or later in the UK I think. Anyway, whatever Hollywood (or Ealing) portrays as aviation r/t is usually utter nonsense. I just think it's nothing more than a coincidence that STAR was BSAA's nicknames, and that STEN and STAR are the same in morse but for one trailing dot.

24th Mar 2002, 06:24
What a coincidence !. .. .I just finished "Lady be Good, mistery Bomber from WWII" last month (actually, this is the second time i read it). .My book is the 80's edition. After this reading I was wondering if somebody manage to find the last crew member those last years ? (which seems to be very unlikely) Does anybody have information about it ?. .I really enjoyed this book which is full of suspens and History fact.. .. .I didn't know, before reading this topic, that there was a 94 recovery expedition set up by Lybians. . .Despite the "hot" relations (or cold, whatever you think appropriate ) between US and Lybia, I would be very interested to know if there was any sort of partnership ou agreement to organize such recovery task ?. .. .Last month, I was in Tunisia, 150 Km far from the Lybian borderline, and I was wondering if it would be possible to trek toward the wrecked B-24 (not from where I was, but technically and legally .. ) . .To see this piece of technology, lost in the middle of nowhere, knowing that all on board met such a tragic end , must add to the emotion. You really wonder how crazy this world is.. .. .About the Stardust, I only know a TV program I saw in Nov 2000 in UK. are you talking about the same show ? Or is it a more recent program.. .Anyway, I found the one I see fascinating ! The state of preservation of the Landing gear, tires and engines is amazing. It seems this Lancastrian crashed the day before .. .. .I am living in Normandy, an area which saw many german and allied a/c crashing during 1944. Needless to say that plenty of airplanes are found on a regular basis. Each of them with their stories, or bodies .... .. .5 or 6 years ago, some friends of mine found a Sptifire in a swamp. They were looking for a FW190, and touched a british airplane.. .After days and hours of work, they were able to dig out the cockpit. The mud had mummified some parts of the pilots body. They were so well preserved that using last DNA sampling techniques, they were able to determine the hair color of the man, as well as some other details.. .Cross checking those morphological facts with eyewitnesses from the era (one farmer) Squadron logbooks and so on .. They , finally, positively identified the MIA pilot who was given a grave and reunited with family members for an official funeral.. .. .I tell you something guys, we don't forget this sacrifice here.

24th Mar 2002, 08:13
By the way. .. .Why did you put this subject in "jet blast" ?

24th Mar 2002, 16:16
Thanks IM S I stand corrected on the B-25. . . Sorry Porco does it offend your sensibilities to have the subject here? I suppose it was simply because that's where I generaly head, but if it bothers you I suppose it could be moved.

24th Mar 2002, 19:29
No problem with me to have this subject here, I was just being surprised to see this thread among critical themas like "is the prince william gay ?" or stuff of the same sort. . .As there is a forum dedicated for Aviation history I was much more expecting to read about Stardust and Lady be Good over there. . .I don't mind at all to find it here in Jet Blast, as I often come to this place first.. .Do you know if there was a recent TV program about the LBG ? . .Here in France, we don't have many aviation related subjects on tellie, and when we have, they are not as good as those I saw in UK. . .As a matter of fact, I would be very interested to hear about DVD's from these shows. I know there was a very good documentary about the Biafra Airlift, a couple of weeks ago.. .Any information welcome at my e-mail below.

24th Mar 2002, 20:54
There was a recent program (I believe part of a series on survival in harsh conditions). There was a section on the LBG, as it was not aviation specific it didn't state why it crash landed in the desert, only that they were hundreds of miles from where they thought they were. Mainly consisted of reading diary entries whilst sitting in remains of a/c. Main point of program was to stay with transport and await arrival of rescuers but apart from intro seemed to forget that the a/c wasn't found for many years. Although only extracts, diary entries seemed to suggest that crew stayed together.

24th Mar 2002, 21:23
Was the captain of the Stardust gay? (Might explain the aircraft's name <img border="0" title="" alt="[Big Grin]" src="biggrin.gif" /> )

24th Mar 2002, 22:10
Tsk Tsk Huggy, anyway in those days gay meant happy. So he might well have been. Back then it was OK to be gay but not Gay.. .. .Porco Rosso, trekking out to the Lady Be Good crash site would be pointless as I recall seeing a picture of the remains stored in a Libyan police compound recently in an aviation magazine. Stop press: in fact the September 2001 issue of Aeroplane. It's stored in a police compound in Tobruk, looking a bit the worse for wear.. .. .I think this thread should perhaps be in the history and nostalgia section.

24th Mar 2002, 23:58
RedPig, there was a thread in Nostalgia ('Heads up...') giving notice of the airing of this program. But few go to that forum, so it picked up here.. .. .In the dark recesses of my cerebellum is a vague recollection of a film of the Lady Be Good story.. .The airplane 'prop' was a wrecked B-25 which may be where the type confusion arose. Can't remember if it was theatrical release or made-for-TV, and no joy on the usual sites. Anybody else remember ?

25th Mar 2002, 00:31
The only film I can recall with a desert crash is "Flight of the Phoenix." In the story some oil workers survived a C-82 crash in the Sahara. IIRC some of the survivors marched off into the desert (Arizona). Some interesting info in the link below but just to warn people, a stuntflier died in the making of this movie and the pics of this sequence are at the bottom of the page.. .http://stripe.colorado.edu/~steinerd/Phoenix.html

25th Mar 2002, 03:17
Fat lot of help you lot are. To prove to myself that I'm not (excessively) crazy, some serious googling turned up this (fair use) from http://www.qmfound.com/Lady_Be_Good_References.htm. .. .. .Television. .. ."Lady Be Good", Armstrong Circle Theater, CBS, date unknown (1959 or 60). .. ."King Nine Will Not Return" Twilight Zone episode, , Writer; Rod Serling, Second Season 1960-1961. After crashing in the desert, a bomber pilot (Cummings) is haunted by the images of his dead crew. (Fictional, not specifically about "Lady Be Good"). .. .Ghost Plane of the Desert, "Lady Be Good", The History Channel, Premiered February 7, 2000.. .. .Movies. .. .The Sole Survivor, TV Movie, 1969; 1 hour, 40 min.,William Shatner as Lieutenant Colonel Josef Gronke, Richard Basehart as Brigadier General Russell Hamner, Loosely based on "Lady-Be-Good". Filmed using a wrecked B-25J on El Mirage Dry Lake in California. . . . .. .. .Must have been Shatner's acting which made me remember it <img border="0" title="" alt="[Smile]" src="smile.gif" /> I think I recall the Twilight Zone episode as well.

26th Mar 2002, 01:27
I was given a long lecture about the importance of ADF flying when I was an F/O doing oilfield support in Libya together with muttered warning about ending up like the LBG, by a new Captain who was trying to beat some sense into me around the time Ghadafi took over from Idris. I rember very well being unwise enough to have started my descent into Benina based simply on sighting a 30 mile fort. I was curtly told to maintain my altitude and kindly do it by reference to the ADF cross bearings as I had obviously mistaken the 100 mile fort for the 30 mile fort and the cross bearings would quickly prove this mistake to me. The Red and Green needles were doing their usual long lazy sweeps of the dial but a bit of optimistic averaging by him on his ADF demo gave two position lines that seemed to confirm this. I then asked if we could try to identify the airport that was now passing underneath 10,000' below us, as politely as I could, and without being too smartarse about it.. . Passengers of course then blamed me for the popping of the ears as we descended rather more rapidly than normal in a 'slightly' larger circuit for landing at our destination, but I was interested enough to then find out about the LBG. Some of the crew had actualy managed to walk some incredible distance towards the sea before dying.