Hidden History: 1972. A plane crashes in the Andes

A plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes mountains on 13 October 1972. There were 45 people on board. 12 died in the crash, 5 more by the next morning. The survivors were at over 11,800 feet in altitude in freezing weather.

Having served in the cold weather Special Forces unit, I have some experience trying to operate at high altitude in severe cold and have no desire to do it again. These survivors were hoping for rescue, but as fate would have it, their plane was painted white. Worse, they were nowhere near where they were supposed to be.

They even heard that the search for them had been abandoned after a few weeks on a radio they’d managed to salvage. When that news was picked up, one of the survivors reacted in an interesting way: He yelled: Hey, boys. There’s some good news. We just heard on the radio. They’ve called off the search.

As expected, he was confronted with the reasonable question: Why is that good news?

The answer is the key to survival: Because it means that we’re going to get out of here on our own.

BTW– I’m currently rewriting my Green Beret Survival Guide, rebranding it and updated it.

8 more of the party were killed on 29 October 1972 when an avalanche swept over the wreckage of the plane. This event is one of the missions in Black Tuesday (Time Patrol).

Eventually the party resorted to cannibalism to survive. Two of the team made a 10-day trek across the Andes in winter to finally get help.

The story of their efforts is one of the most inspiring in survival lore. Since I’ve also written a survival book, it’s one I’ve studied. It’s definitely worth the time to read their story.

And what else happened in 1972?

I’ve got more Time Patrol bumper stickers and tabs coming in. Sign up for my newsletter to get offers on these and other stuff, including Cool Gus pictures (very valuable) and the occasional free book that isn’t offered publicly.

1 Comment

  1. Every single time I fly, you post something about plane crashes. Hmmmm…

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