BSAA Star Tiger (registration G-AHNP) was an Avro Tudor IV passenger aircraft owned and operated by British South American Airways (BSAA) which disappeared without a trace over the Atlantic Ocean while on a flight between Santa Maria in the Azores and Bermuda in the early morning of 30 January 1948. Twenty-five passengers and a crew of six were on board The Star Tiger. No bodies or wreckage were found.
British South American Airways (BSAA) was an airline created by former World War II pilots in an effort to provide service on the previously untapped South American trade and passenger routes. Originally named British Latin American Air Lines (BLAIR) it was split off from the British Overseas Airways Corporation to operate its South Atlantic routes.
The official investigation into the disappearance concluded: “It may truly be said that no more baffling problem has ever been presented. “What happened in this case will never be known and the fate of Star Tiger must remain an unsolved mystery.”
But there are a number of clues in the official accident report that reveal the Star Tiger had encountered problems before it reached the Azores.The aircraft’s heater was notoriously unreliable and had failed en route, and one of the compasses was found to be faulty.Probably to keep the plane warmer, the pilot had decided to fly the whole transatlantic route very low, at 2,000 feet, burning fuel at a faster rate.
On approaching Bermuda, Star Tiger was a little off course and had been flying an hour later than planned. In addition, the official Ministry of Civil Aviation report considered that the headwinds faced by Star Tiger may have been much stronger than those forecast. This would have caused the fuel to burn more quickly.
“Flying at 2,000 feet they would have used up much more fuel,” said Eric Newton, one of the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s most senior air accident investigators, who reviewed the scenario for the BBC.
“At 2,000 feet you’d be leaving very little altitude for manoeuvre. In any serious in-flight emergency they could have lost their height in seconds and gone into the sea.”
Whatever happened to the plane, it was sudden and catastrophic – there was no time to send an emergency signal.