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HomeFact CheckViral Story Of Time-Travelling Santiago Flight 513 Is A Work Of Fiction

Viral Story Of Time-Travelling Santiago Flight 513 Is A Work Of Fiction

Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Claim
Story of Santiago Flight 513, which disappeared in 1954 and reappeared after 35 years in 1989.

Fact
No such incident, story found to be a work of fiction by a US-based tabloid notorious for publishing fake stories.

A video has gone viral on Whatsapp recently, narrating the perplexing story of one Santiago Flight 513 that purportedly disappeared in 1954 and reappeared after 35 years in 1989. We received this video on our Whatsapp tipline (9999499044), requesting us to fact-check it.

Here’s the tale of Santiago Flight 513, as claimed in the viral video:

Santiago Flight 513, a commercial airliner operated by Santiago Airlines, departed from Aachen, Germany, on September 4, 1954, with 88 passengers and four crew members onboard. The aircraft was headed towards Porto Alegre, Brazil. The plane disappeared without a trace soon after take-off, causing despair and confusion among relatives of the passengers, crew and the aviation industry. Despite relentless search and rescue efforts, no wreckage or any sign of the aircraft was found.

On October 12, 1989, 35 years after its disappearance, the plane suddenly reappeared, landing perfectly at Porto Alegre’s airport, stunning air traffic controllers. When the security team checked the plane, they found the haunting sight of the skeletal remains of all 92 people in their seats with the pilot still clutching the controls.

The narrator states that the most widely held explanation behind Santiago Flight 513 is the wormhole theory, claiming that the flight most probably would have entered a “time hole”, which means the plane travelled through time.

The narrator further goes on to cite Albert Einstein’s work, stating that the physicist had, in 1916, studied equations about the fabric of the universe in his general theory of relativity, where he found that there are “gaps in space that have an insanely strong gravitational pull and can gulp down anything that passes by them. These gaps are known as black holes”.  In 2019, NASA had taken a picture of a black hole, confirming Einstein’s theory and the paranormal nature of the viral story, according to the narrator. The only question that remains is who piloted the plane during the landing, ends the narrator.

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Fact Check

Newschecker first ran a keyword search for “Santiago Flight 513”, which did not lead us to any credible news reports of such a supernatural incident, raising our doubts.

We then looked up “Santiago Airline” and found no official records of such an airline, while we saw that the city of Aachen had no international airport, with the nearest being a regional airport operating in Limburg, Netherlands, contradicting the viral story.

Newschecker learnt that the story was first published on November 14, 1989 by the Weekly World News (right), a US-based tabloid with a reputation for conjuring up farcical stories, according to Snopes, a fact-checking website known for researching urban legends.  A page grab of the tabloid’s report on Santiago Flight 513 can be seen in the viral video (left), too.

Snopes had also debunked a similar viral claim about another flight, Pan Am Flight 914, which reportedly had gone missing for 37 years before turning up again and landing without incident. “Weekly World News was an infamous tabloid known for publishing fantastically fictitious stories, such as about a time traveller getting busted for insider trading, a story about a man suing himself after hitting himself with a boomerang, and doctored images of ‘giant’ skeletons. In other words, Weekly World News isn’t exactly a reputable source of news,” read a Snopes fact-check on the mystery of Pan Am Flight 914, dated July 1, 2019.

We came across this USA Today news report, dated December 2, 2016, calling the Weekly World News a “beacon of shining fake news”. “For nearly 30 years (1979-2007), the sensational tabloid entertained, amused and baffled its loyal readers with otherworldly accounts of aliens (“Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby”), Elvis (“Elvis Is Alive — And Running For President!”) and the ridiculous (“World’s Smartest Chimp Goes To College”),” stated the report, adding that “the fictional news publication — notorious for its black-and-white cover stories on the supernatural and silly —  faded away with the advent of the Internet. WWN resurfaced, appropriately, online in 2009.”  Similar news reports on WWN can be seen here and here.

When we looked up the website, we saw the tagline, “the world’s only reliable news”, along with its humorous “about us” section, further confirming that the tabloid publishes fictitious stories.

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Conclusion

Viral story of the missing Santiago Flight 513, which landed 35 years later, was found to be an old hoax report by a US-based humour and satire publication. 

Result: False

Sources
Snopes report, December 17, 2019
Weekly World News website
USA Today report, December 2, 2016


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Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

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