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Spies gold and a one-way flightStar Dust FallingJay RaynerDoubleday 1299 pp239When the remains of the Star Dust Lancastrian airliner were discovered on the Andean peak of Tupungato in January 2000 it immediately became headline news After all how often does a plane turn up 53 years after it disappearedThe discovery like all discoveries turned into something of a media scrum with the Star Dust rapidly becoming a cause clbre for curious mountaineers But what about the hapless victims of the crash - all 11 of them Six passengers and five crew members - their bones unceremoniously scattered about the mountainside What were their lives like before they were cut so jarringly shortThat is the question journalist Jay Rayner explores in Star Dust Falling We learn about the Palestinian businessman with a diamond sewn into the lining of his battered pin-stripe suit the kings messenger with his canvas bag full of secrets the English playboy with a taste for champagne and beautiful women not to mention the crew of brave ex-bomber pilotsThese were the pioneering days of commercial air travel Both crew and passengers took their life in their hands and put up with the kind of in-flight conditions that make deep-vein thrombosis look like pins and needles In 1947 the trip from London to Santiago took five days and three plane changes to complete The Star Dust no more than an old Lancastrian bomber with its gun turret shorn off was to cover the last and most hazardous leg of the journey from Buenos Aires to Santiago As we now know the plane didnt make it coming fatally unstuck somewhere over the AndesRayner pieces together the events leading up to the crash on 2 August 1947 to argue convincingly that it was an accident waiting to happen The man held responsible for the tragedy and several others of a similar nature was a highly decorated and well regarded Second World War hero Air-Vice-Marshall Donald Bennett
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