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Flight 513 Explained- Is It Real And What Likely Inspired It And Was Inspired By It?

For those internet sleuths, urban legend enthusiasts, and all-around geeks, Flight 513 is the stuff dreams are made of. It is perfect conspiracy theory fodder for a good old-fashioned deep dive down the rabbit hole. The story of the doomed flight reads like the inspiration for Lost or Manifest, with eery similarities to both. It also runs parallel to an episode of the Twilight Zone called The Odessey of Flight 33, which reimagines the Flying Dutchmen myth. The plausibility of the story, especially after Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappeared without a trace on its way to Beijing, China, from Kuala Lumpur, always manages to resurrect the nearly thirty-five-year-old tale. Here’s everything you need to know about Santiago Flight 513, whether it is real, who first told the story, and any cultural references.

What is the story of Flight 513?

Santiago Airlines Flight 513 departed Aachen, Germany in route to Porte Allegre, Brazil on a Locklead Superconstellation. On board were 88 passengers and four crew. The crew and the plane had completed countless trips without incident until that fateful day. On September 4th, 1954, the plane vanished instead of arriving in Brazil. Despite extensive search and rescue attempts, nothing was ever found. The plane just disappeared with all its passengers. For thirty-five years, the family members of those lost were left without answers. On October 12th, 1989, to the shock of everyone, the plane mysteriously reappears and lands in Brazil. Air traffic control was unable to communicate with the plane, and there was no indication of what had happened to the aircraft in thirty-five years.

When the plane was boarded with the engine still running, all the passengers and crew were found dead on board. They had been dead for some time and were not much more than skeletons. The captain was found still in the cockpit with his hands on the controls, also a skeleton. The most significant questions were how they got there and what happened to them.

How do we know this story is false?

There are a number of things that make this story nothing more than a clever and enduring urban legend. First and foremost, Santiago Airlines does not exist and never has. Unless someone has systematically erased all traces of the company along with all employees, flight records, and financial information, there is no way Flight 513 was a Santiago Airlines flight. There is also no record of any Flight 513 from any airline at any time having crashed or gone missing, much less reappearing thirty-five years later. Additionally, the airport in Aachen, Germany, where the flight supposedly originated, was a small municipal airport and would not have accommodated a large international flight.

A second and possibly more damning clue is the story of the death flight was published in the Weekly World News, a notoriously tabloid paper like The National Inquirer. The Weekly World News was known for publishing sensationalized or outright false stories. Even more, telling is this isn’t the first version of their story. In 1985 they told the same story, only this time it was Pan Am Flight 914, the flight had been missing for 37 years, originated and was scheduled to land in different places, and everyone on board was alive and confused as hell when they finally landed.

Additionally, this Pan Am version of the story was published again in 1993 and 1999 with eyewitness accounts of a man they pictured alongside the article. Stretching credibility further, the paper didn’t even use the same picture for both articles despite the eyewitness supposedly being the same man and using stock footage of the wrong type of plane. Authenticity wasn’t really important to them.

Both stories were not reported anywhere else, but the Weekly World News, and there is not any news footage of any kind on any platform. In contrast to this, Malaysian Flight 370 dominated the news cycle for months saturating the viewing market with print, internet, and television coverage. Prior to the internet and the emergence of social media, tragedies were still covered in every news publication comprehensively. If either of these flights existed and went missing, there would be evidence somewhere. These types of supernatural stories, like the Bermuda Triangle, ghost lights, and reappearing flights, are baked into the fabric of our society.

Why do stories like Flight 513 captivate us?

Stories of the unknown or unexplained will always be fascinating because they give voice to genuine fears. Fear of flying is relatively common, and even seasoned travelers think a little about their plane crashing. Death is a scary thing, especially for the young, and making death supernaturally mysterious somehow takes the sting out of the undefined parts of life and death. It’s easier to acknowledge the possibility of a strange plane returning thirty-five years later than accept that sometimes terrible things happen for no reason, and cars crash, ships are lost at sea, and planes go down.

We love the idea of bigger things than we can imagine. Aliens, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, spirits, and Bloody Mary, will continue to pop up because stories have power. Whether rooted in a nugget of fact like Bloody Mary or entirely imagined like the many cryptids, we want to believe in something fantastical, and so we do. The Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean is a similar story told from a sailor’s perspective.

Santiago Flight 513 never existed. It was a creative story written to take advantage of a ready-made rabid audience published by a newspaper that was known for producing these types of stories. There’s a reason the ideas of aliens, bat children, and Megladons living in the Marianna Trench endure. They are fun, and the best stories have staying power. Elder Gods and existential dread are anxiety in physical form, and Flight 513 and things like it make light of the dread. This particular urban legend continues to get new eyes and spawn countless other stories because it’s believable enough to be plausible and creepy enough to be fun.