The 1972 Andes flight disaster, a harrowing tale of survival against insurmountable odds, remains one of the most extraordinary human endurance stories ever told. When Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed into the unforgiving Andes Mountains, it began a saga of human resilience, hope, and the unyielding will to live.
Among the 45 passengers and crew aboard, only 16 miraculously survived the 72-day ordeal in one of the most hostile environments on Earth.
Each survivor’s story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity. Here is a brief look at these remarkable individuals, whose lives were forever changed by this tragic event.
The survivors of the 1972 Andes flight disaster, which inspired the film “Society of the Snow,” are as follows:
Roberto Canessa – A medical student at the time of the crash.
Roberto Canessa: A medical student at the time, Canessa played a crucial role in the survival of the group, including making the decision to resort to cannibalism. He later became a pediatric cardiologist.
Fernando “Nando” Parrado – One of the key figures who played a crucial role in the rescue.
Fernando “Nando” Parrado: Parrado was critically injured in the crash but recovered. He played a key role in the rescue by trekking across the Andes to find help. He later became a motivational speaker and author.
Carlos (Carlitos) Páez Rodríguez
Carlos Páez Rodríguez: He was one of the younger survivors, known for his positive attitude during the ordeal. Carlos later became a successful artist and motivational speaker. Carlitos Páez plays the role of his own father (Carlos Páez Vilaró) in the movie.
José Pedro Algorta – An economics student.
José Pedro Algorta: An economics student at the time, Algorta managed to survive the harsh conditions. He maintained a low profile after the incident and pursued a career in business.
Alfredo “Pancho” Delgado
Alfredo “Pancho” Delgado: Known for his resilience, Delgado helped in various survival tasks. He lived a private life post-rescue.
Daniel Fernández: He contributed significantly to the group’s survival efforts. Fernández kept a low profile after the incident.
Roberto “Bobby” François
Roberto “Bobby” François: François was instrumental in making life-saving decisions during the ordeal. He later led a private life.
Roy Harley: An amateur electronics enthusiast, Harley attempted to repair the plane’s radio for a distress signal. He continued his career in electronics post-rescue.
José “Coche” Luis Inciarte
José “Coche” Luis Inciarte: Inciarte was known for his mental strength during the ordeal. He passed away in July 2023.
Álvaro Mangino: Mangino played a significant role in the group’s survival. He later worked in the insurance industry.
Javier Methol: Methol was one of the last to agree to cannibalism. He and his wife, who died in the avalanche, were the only couple on the flight.
Ramón “Moncho” Sabella
Ramón “Moncho” Sabella: Sabella showed great endurance and later shared his experiences in talks and interviews.
Adolfo “Fito” Strauch
Adolfo “Fito” Strauch: Strauch was known for his ingenuity, including creating a solar water melting device. He continued a quiet life after the rescue.
Eduardo Strauch: He survived with his cousin Fito and later wrote a book about his experience.
Antonio “Tintin” Vizintín
Antonio “Tintin” Vizintín: A young and vital member of the team, Vizintín was part of the expedition to seek help but returned to the crash site to save resources.
Gustavo Zerbino – A medical student.
Gustavo Zerbino: Another medical student, Zerbino helped treat injuries. He later became a leader in the pharmaceutical industry and a motivational speaker.
These 16 individuals endured 72 days in the harsh conditions of the Andes Mountains following the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571. Their story of survival, which included resorting to cannibalism, is one of the most remarkable in aviation history.
Each of these survivors endured an unimaginable ordeal and their stories of resilience and survival have been a source of inspiration and study.