The Argentinean Air Force Douglas DC4, TC-48, took off from Howard AFB in Panama on Nov. 3, 1965 with 68 on board — nine crewmembers and 59 cadets from the 31st class of the Military Aviation School. It was supposed to be their last training flight before graduation.
The so-called “cadet flight” was never seen again.
Will a new search expedition have better luck?
TC-48 was lost in flight between Howard AFB in Panama and the El Salvador Airport, 40 minutes after takeoff. The airliner was under the command of Renato Felippa and captain-rank pilots Miguel Moyano and Esteban Viberti.
The old four-engine plane vanished without a trace, literally disappearing into thin air. Searches were conducted by land and sea, and after a few weeks, official combing operations performed by units and personnel of the Argentinean, Costa Rican and US governments were called off.
This was followed by a private search conducted by several parents and siblings of the missing with few results. Most of these people have already passed on.
In the words of Cecilia Viberti, daughter of pilot Esteban Viberti, who has looked for the aircraft for decades: “non-discovery of the craft has led to a number of conspiracy-hued speculations regarding the accident: that a native tribe kept the survivors captive, that there is another Bermuda Triangle that “swallowed” the airplane, that there is a “phantom village” where the crewmembers still live. As occurs with the Malaysian flight, everything revolves around the same core: both stories share the common word – mystery.”
Ever since the mayday was received from TC-48 on the foggy morning of 3 November 1965, 35 exploratory missions have been carried out. Now, a private group from Costa Rica is preparing a new field expedition, to be set in motion when the rainy season draws to a close and entering the impenetrable Caribbean jungle becomes possible.
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TC-48 photo via Diario Los Andes.