Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Search NOVA Teachers

Back to Teachers Home

Vanished!

Program Overview


In 1947, Stardust, an airliner converted from a World War II bomber, disappeared on a flight from Buenos Aires to Santiago without a trace. Fifty-three years later, NOVA follows an international team using modern scientific methods to piece together what happened and why.

The program:

  • describes the circumstances of the flight's sudden disappearance in South America's Andes mountains and relates theories that evolved in the absence of hard information.

  • recounts the discovery of one of Stardust's engines as well as personal effects on the glacier below Mount Tupangato.

  • explains how analyzing the wreckage distribution is critical to discovering what happened, because different types of crashes leave different patterns on the ground.

  • outlines the various crash theories considered by investigators.

  • reviews the team's final theory on what probably happened: Stardust crashed on the eastern face of Tupangato and its wreckage was first covered by avalanche and then carried away by glacial flow.

  • speculates the plane crashed because flight crew members encountered stronger winds than they had calculated for, which altered their flight path without the crew's knowledge.

  • explores how navigation practices of the 1940s and lack of knowledge of the jet stream may have contributed to the crash.

Teacher's Guide
Vanished!
PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS CLASSROOM ACTIVITY RELATED NOVA RESOURCES INTERACTIVE FOR STUDENTS
   

Support provided by