Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read

Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read

Author:Piers Paul Read [Read, Piers Paul]
Language: eng
Format: epub, azw3
Tags: Biography & Autobiography, Adventurers & Explorers, History, Latin America, South America, Sports & Recreation, Mountaineering
ISBN: 9781504039123
Publisher: Open Road Media
Published: 2016-10-10T22:00:00+00:00


A new spirit of optimism was generated among the parents by the news that a specially equipped C-47 of the Uruguayan Air Force was to be sent to search for the Fairchild, and there were many volunteers from among the fathers to join the expedition. Páez Vilaró was still in Brazil, but although the Air Force would only allow five passengers to fly with the crew, it was clear that he would want to be one of them. Ramón Sabella was to have been another, but he was advised against going by his doctor. The four others who were chosen to accompany Páez Vilaró were Rodríguez Escalada and the fathers of Roberto Canessa, Roy Harley and Gustavo Nicolich. But it was not just these men who were involved in the operation; the families of Methol, Maquirriain, Abal, Parrado, Valeta and many others contributed money and advice, while Rafael Ponce de León kept in touch with the radio hams in Chile.

On December 8 a group of parents, including those who were to go on the expedition, went to Base No. 1 of the Air Force to confer with the pilot of the C-47, Major Ruben Terra, and draw up plans for the search. On the same day Páez Vilaró returned from Brazil and confirmed that, much as he mistrusted the planes of the Uruguayan Air Force, he would fly with the expedition.

They continued throughout the next day to make arrangements for their departure, and at midday on December 10 there was a final meeting of all the parents, relatives and novias with their expeditionaries in the spacious Moorish bungalow of the Nicolichs. Two expert Uruguayan pilots were invited to this meeting and all the material that had been assembled by the Chilean SAR, the Uruguayan Air Force, and the parents themselves was laid out on the table for all to see. Dr Surraco produced maps and explained why he and others were now convinced that the plane must have crashed between the Tinguiririca and Sosneado mountains. No one disputed their judgment. The mountains around Talca and Vilches had been forgotten; reason had triumphed over parapsychology.

The meeting went on until evening. After it had broken up the two Strauch couples went to the Harleys’ house, where they talked long into, the night about the expedition which they hoped so much would find their sons. At the end of it Walter Harley turned to Rosina Strauch and said, ‘Listen. I’m going to chew up the Andes. I’m going to search them foot by foot until I find the boys. But I’m going to ask you to do something too. If we fail this time, you must accept that there’s no more hope. When we come back from the expedition, we must give up all false expectation.’

At six o’clock the next morning, December 11, the C-47 took off for Santiago. Aboard were the pilot, Major Ruben Terra, a crew of four, and Páez Vilaró, Canessa, Harley, Nicolich and Rodríguez Escalada. Even at that early hour, many parents had come to the airport to see them off.


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