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Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 283
I've trying to get additional information about a US Navy C-47 that went missing on 4 August 1969 somewhere over the Andes Mountains.  The plane was used as a hack in support of various embassies in South America and was on a flight from Santiago, Chile to Buenas Aires, Argentina.  On board this flight were 8 US Navy and Air Force officers who were military attaches from various embassies and their spouses, one who was a Philippine national.

During a year that Vietnam and the Apollo moon shot dominated the headlines, the missing plane was barely mentioned in postage stamp sized articles with virtually no details about the search or names of the passengers. All I have been able to find out was that since the plane did not make a scheduled communications check prior to crossing the Andes, it was assumed that the plane crashed somewhere on the western slopes of the Andes. 

The search was suspended after almost five weeks in September, 1969 but a short search was conducted in December, 1969 after the snow melt began.  Not a single trace or clue was found during both searches.  The only mention I have been able to find about the plane since 1969 was in an article about flying in Latin America by the L.A. Times in September, 1978.  The article mentioned that the "Navy DC-3" was never found up to that time. 

Was the plane ever found?  Does anybody have any details about the flight and passengers?   How about the BuNo for this plane?  Any information provided would be appreciated.

Registered: 08/19/08
Posts: 8


    The only information I found is out of US Aircraft Mishaps 1950-2004 from Scramble whichs lists it as a C47M and the number 17254 which might be a production number as I found  that plane serial number listed to a plane that was turned over to Thailand.


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Registered: 12/03/06
Posts: 287
Hate to add to the mystery, Don, but Douglas c/n 17254 comes back as A-24B-5-DT 42-54415. I looked for a C-47 in the AAF list that might match that as as tail number, but didn't find one.
Jeff Wilkinson
Oklahoma Wreckchasing

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Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 283
Thanks, guys, for making an effort.  I tried looking at JF Baugher's website for any entries related to a missing C-47 type aircraft in both his Army Air Force and Navy listings with no luck. 

However, one of the articles I have list the missing plane as a, "Navy C-47M".    

I also found a reference to a New York Times article that identifies the missing personnel as 6 officers, 2 enlisted members of the crew and 6 officer's wives on board the missing plane.  I'll probably go down to the local library on Monday and get a copy of this article.

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 65
3 articles from August 1969, New York.  I found a few more with some names listed:

Pilot CMDR Ralph J Touch, (and Mrs Touch on board), Des Moines , IA

LT CMDR and Mrs. Harold L Mooney,
LT CMDR and Mrs James P Kuhn

Attached Files
pdf Navy_Missing_69.pdf (373.47 KB, 360 views)
pdf Navy_Missing_69_2.pdf (359.15 KB, 230 views)
pdf Navy_Missing_69_3.pdf (447.26 KB, 224 views)


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Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 283
Thank you all for the additional information and the news articles.  These articles are more than what I had been able to find in the online News Archives and other sources. 

I'm assuming that this plane has never been found and is still missing.  Let us hope that someone, someday will stumble across the wreckage and that the remains of the passengers and crew will be found and properly laid to rest.

Registered: 09/02/10
Posts: 1

I was just searching for information on this plane crash and came across this info.  I was 15 years old and we had just left Chile to return to the United States.  I had flown on that airplane before and knew some of the passengers on that flight.  Two of them had rented our house after we left.  My father was part of the U.S. Naval Mission to Chile in Vina del Mar. 


Registered: 11/15/10
Posts: 2
I have some info on the crash.  My father was aboard that plane, and was in the Air Force at the time.  There was a mix of Navy and Air Force personnel on the flight, along with several of their wives.
Being the son of one of the victims, I have requested copies of the messages from the National Archives.  Since my father was Air Force, I was only able to see the messages that were sent in between Air Force offices.  However, I just came into possession of a file of messages from the Navy side, which contains more info on the search efforts.
At the time, the plane was not found.  The search was to resume when the snow melted.  What is interesting is that neither the Navy nor Air Force messages mentions anything about the search being resumed after the snow melt.  I have tried to find info from the Chilean SAR, but so far have not been successful.


Registered: 04/06/08
Posts: 12
I have C-47M, BuNo 17254 as written off on the 4th of August 1969. The unit given as the unit operating it at the time is "Mission Valpari", Chile.
With the date and the BuNo, you should be able to get a copy of the accident report from the Washington Navy Yard.


Registered: 08/01/10
Posts: 4

The accident report of Us navy C-47 buno 17254 is now on the internet in the jagman electronic reading room. Just go to google put in jag manual investigations us navy jag corps  then go to the web site then scroll down and you will see it. I sent a request to navy foia about 6 months a go for the report. A good friend of mine Lcdr Jim Kuhn was the copilot on that plane. Before that I was going no where when I happen to stumble upon this web site. Thanks to the information especially from  FC eng with his pdfs what had been extremley difficult became a smooth flow in obtaining the information and also in tracking down the survivors of Jim kuhn. Another great source and help was from gb who provided me with invaluable  information that would have not been found in the accident report. So once again thank you at wreckchasers. The report is about 160 pages and half of that is message traffic. The rest is the actual report.


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Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 283
Its been over a year since I first posted this request for information on this missing plane case.  I finally got to read the Navy's 166 page report last night that included daily summaries of the search, the subsequent investigation with findings and the death declarations for all 16 on board.

What strikes me is that there was plenty of clues uncovered that point to an area of high probability and possible crash site on the Chile side of the Andes.  However, there is no evidence that that any follow-on search took place when the snow began to melt off six months later.  There was a brief mention in a US newspaper in December, 1969 of the resumption of the search. However, these documents don't mention anything about it.

The type of search aircraft were not exactly the most efficient for SAR - high performance jets and multi-engined aircraft.  However, it appears that the searchers had no choice as the high altitude and winter conditions of the Andes would rule out using smaller fixed wing and rotary wing search aircraft.

In addition, it appears that the pilot was not very receptive to the advice and recommendations from the locals concerning weather and his flight plans. Since he was relatively new to flying in that particular part of the world, that advice would have been crucial to surviving a flight like this. I would really liked to have heard the conversations between he and his experienced co-pilot.  Pilot judgment as well as weather played a big factor in this sad case.

I firmly believe that there is enough evidence to work with for a resumption of a search for the crash site. With much snow and glacier melt off in the Andes this past decade that there is a chance that the crash site may now be visible.  I believe its only a matter of time before someone stumbles into the wreckage.


Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 182

The BSAA Lancastrian and SAETA Vickers Viscount were missing for decades in the Andes before finally being discovered in the last ten years.  Russ Farris


Registered: 01/12/11
Posts: 1
I am the daughter of Cdr Ralph Touch.  Looking for info about C-47M BuNo 17254 lost in Chile, Aug 4, 1969.

Registered: 11/15/10
Posts: 2
I had sent an email to the US Embassy in Chile in November of 2010.  I got a reply that they would contact the Chilean Air Force to see if they had any information.  Since then...no updates.
I was thinking, this is their summer.  I don't know if they had a warm enough summer to get any more snow melt.  But if so, this would be the time for them to attempt a search through the pass that the plane attempted to fly through.
If everyone would join in, let's flood the US Embassy with requests for a new search.  Their email address is:  ircchile@state.gov
There's got to be some way to get some action.


Registered: 07/07/11
Posts: 22

Sounds like the search was forgotten after winter was over. I think it might be a mistake to assume it never made it into Argentine airspace just because the last reported position was in Chile. I think this aircraft might prove harder to find than the missing C-54 from Alaska.

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