Cajon Lo Valdes, site of an air crash in 1965, no survivorsRiding up Lo Valdes. The cross at El Avion commemorating the LAN flight crash in 1965

A LAN Chile flight crashed in the Cajon Lo Valdes, otherwise known locally as ‘El Avion’ in 1965. In the air disaster database it is recorded as ‘The aircraft crashed into terrain after the crew failed to follow the prescribed departure route after takeoff’.  The story locally goes that the normal routine was three circles of flight to rise up above the mountains surrounding Santiago. The pilot bet he could do it in 2, and hit the mountainside just 50 metres below the top. It is said that the passengers were all bus and taxi owners going to a football match.

Wikipedia ( says: On February 6, 1965 a Douglas DC-6, operating as LAN Chile Flight 107 from Santiago to Ezeiza near Buenos Aires, Argentina at an altitude of about 12,000 ft (3,658 m), flew into a mountain near the San José Volcano in the Las Melosas area of the Andes. All of the 87 passengers and crew on board died in what is as of 2010 the worst aircraft accident in Chile.

The day ride on horseback up Lo Valdes is steep and incredibly beautiful. This valley has some of the best wild flowers in the month of January. We saw special varieties of alstromeria and myriad beautiful species growing in abundance – see here. We were struck that this pathetic tin cross, put there by the families of the dead, is the only memorial of the crash, other than the glinting flashes from glass still lodged in the high rocks around. Lan does not seem to feel it necessary to commemorate them.

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