|Alejandro Bello Silva|
2nd Lt. Alejandro Bello Silva
|Years of service||1909 - 1914|
In the pre-dawn hours of 9 March 1914, Lieutenant Bello was in the Lo Espejo aerodrome, where he was to take an examination to earn the designation Military Pilot. Bello and two companions had to complete the circuit from Lo Espejo to Culitrín, to Cartagena, and back to Lo Espejo, in the central region of Chile, in order to pass the exam. The total distance of the flight was 111 miles, and should have taken two hours to complete.
On the first attempt, the aviators had to return to base due to near-zero visibility caused by heavy fog. Bello damaged his aircraft during the landing, and switched to an 80 horsepower (60 kW) Sánchez-Besa biplane (tail number 13, nicknamed "Manuel Rodríguez") for the second attempt. He took off together with one companion and the instructor, who had to make an emergency landing for refueling. Nevertheless, Bello continued his route and was lost among the clouds.
Search efforts were initiated the very day Bello disappeared. Several people claimed to have seen the aircraft land or crash, but these were unsubstantiated. Various theories proposed at the time suggested that Bello had crashed into the sea or that the wrecked craft would be found in a mountain pass. Several expeditions were launched to locate a crash site, including one as recently as 1988, but no traces were found either of Lieutenant Bello or of the plane he was piloting.
Lieutenant Bello in popular culture
- In Chile, the expression más perdido que el Teniente Bello ("clumsier than Lieutenant Bello") is applied to clumsy or missed people.
- In 1945, Chilean journalist and author Hugo Silva published the novel Pacha Pulai blending the story of Alejandro Bello with the legend of the City of the Caesars, which dates from Chile's colonial times.
- Mentioned in an episode of Diego and Glot, Super Family, voiced by Don Francisco.
- His figure is used in the science fiction short story "The Prisoner" from the anthology Alucinaciones.TXT: Nueva antología de cuentos de literatura fantástica chilena (ISBN 978-956-8648-02-2). From that story later derives the novel The Shadow of Fire: The Final Flight of Lt. Bello. Also listed as a fictional character in other tales such as CHIL3: Relación del Reyno and the graphic novel 1899, which also blends elements of Pacha Pulai.
- Van Hare, Thomas. "More Lost Than Lieutenant Bello". www.historicwings.com. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Alejandra Cristi (6 December 2007). "Restos podrían ser del avión del 'teniente Bello'" [Debris may be from Lieutenant Bello's aircraft]. Publimetro (in Spanish). p. 16.[dead link]
- "Expedicionarios buscan restos del teniente Bello" [Expedition members search for the remains of Lieutenant Bello]. Terra (in Spanish). Archived from the original on January 10, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
- Jaime González Colville, "Teniente Bello", El Mercurio, 6 December 2007, Maps section, page A-2. Online version at http://diario.elmercurio.com/2007/12/06/editorial/cartas/noticias/A4E93E0E-BA55-4529-99F1-7050BFA6C5E3.htm[dead link] (in Spanish)