They say flying in a plane is safer than riding in a car. But during the rare occasions when a plane does crash or make an emergency landing, it almost always makes headlines. It’s not every day that an aircraft goes down. As a result, the public has become fascinated with the stories behind abandoned planes. Famous wreckage sights have become tourist attractions. People travel far and wide to get a glimpse at former air crafts. It’s even commonplace to go on diving expeditions to view planes that have crashed in the water.
Needless to say, these moments make for some excellent picture opportunities. Since not everyone can visit a plane wreckage in-person, we’ve put together a list of 20 of the most chilling images of abandoned aircrafts. These eerie photos are sure to make you curious as to what’s the story behind the ruins. Let’s just say that some of the stories are wilder than others.
This Avro Shackleton came crashing down in 1994 in the Sahara Desert, somewhere between Morocco and Mauritania. Only 19 people survived the crash. The plane had been en route to the United Kingdom when it experienced double engine failure, resulting in the catastrophe.
The remains of what used to be a U.S. navy plane are left rusting on the black sands of Sólheimasandur Beach in this remarkable scene. It’s unclear why the plane crashed, though many speculate it was due to an empty fuel tank. The plane is still relatively intact on the volcanic beach, save for its nose, which makes for such a haunting sight.
It’s hard to believe this plane now sits calmly on such a picturesque Canadian landscape. The Curtiss C-46 Commando crashed near Churchill, Manitoba in 1978. The plane was nicknamed ‘Miss Piggy’ because of the size of loads she carried from destination to destination.
Shortly into the flight, a drop in oil pressure forced the crew to turn back to Churchill, but they had to make an emergency landing when the plane couldn’t hold out any longer. All passengers survived.
This Douglas DC3 was originally transporting a Turkish paratrooper during World War II, and while it was still intact following the war, it was actually sunk in 2009 to become a tourist attraction. Now, the glorious aircraft sits upright 26 meters below the surface. Divers are able to go into the open plane and sit in the cockpit if they wish.
These remains are of a Mitsubishi G4M – aptly known as ‘Betty' – whose remains can currently be found in the Solomon Islands.
The G4M was previously used in World War II, and like many aircrafts from that time, it’s remains can be found covered by the forest ground and its lush plants. Given how the pieces are scattered everywhere, it would be surprising if there were survivors from this crash.
This C-47’s crash in Northern Siberia is a bit of a miracle. The aircraft had been sent to Russia as part of a wartime lease following WWII, but it crash landed en route.
Passengers had to spend weeks waiting by the wreckage for help. Though most of the people were eventually saved, the captain, two crew members, and six passengers went to find help on foot were never recovered.
This eerie wreckage is from a U.S. Navy cargo plane that had to make an emergency landing near a beach in Iceland. The plane became stuck in the sand, so its body was stripped of valuable parts and abandoned.
The plane has since become a tourist attraction, particularly after being featured in the music video for Justin Bieber’s “I’ll Show You.”
The US Airforce B-24D Liberator came down near Gona, Papua New Guinea during World War II in 1943. Its nine crew members walked away with only minor injuries. The US Army was later able to salvage the plane’s four engines and landing gear. They also took leftover machines guns and gun turrets.
The remains of the Hawker Hurricane were found 75 years after it crash landed in a field in Malta during World War II. It was a single-seat fighter plane used by the British Royal Air Force. Approximately 14,500 planes like this one were built during WWII. The remains have since been removed so farmers could cultivate the land.
The US Air Force Douglas C-47 crashed near Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada in 1950, though all ten on board came out alive. When the plane crashed, it was -40 degrees Celsius, but the pilot made his way down the mount to the highway where he flagged down a truck. They led a search party back to the remaining crew members.
The plane remains in excellent condition over sixty years later.
Perhaps one of the coolest wreckages on this list is from the remains of the P-38 Lightning, which crashed on a Welsh beach in 2007. The aircraft was originally a 1942 Americana fighter and it remains unclear why it crashed. However, the shifting tides and sands makes the remains appear and reappear randomly, making it hard to visit and photograph.
Its exact location remains a mystery, as experts have to wait until the sand totally clears before it can be recovered.
This degrading wreckage has an interesting backstory behind it.
What’s left of the Boeing 727 was discovered in 2009 in a remote desert close to Northern Mali. While there is still a lot that remains unclear about the airplane crash, the United Nations launched an investigation and determined the plane was being used to transport illegal substances from Venezuela to Mali. It tried to land on a makeshift airstrip so it could unload its cargo, but then likely crashed as it was taking off. Some theorists suspect is was intentionally destroyed to get rid of evidence.
This B-24D Liberator is a piece of history from WWII. The aircraft was originally carrying a bomber before it crashed in 1942 in Alaska due to poor weather conditions. The wreckage now sits on Atka, one of the most western points in the Aleutian mountains.
Given its remote location, it’s difficult to see the remains in person, unless you’re up for a lot of hiking.
If you get the chance to go to Honolulu, Hawaii, make sure you check out this stunning wreckage scene. This formerly Vaught F4U Corsair plane crashed during a routine mission in 1948 when the engine failed, though the captain was able to safely land on water before the plane itself sunk. Now divers are able to take an adventure to its remains and check out the eerie sight.
This Grumman HU-16 Albatross crashed near Puerto Escondido, Mexico in 2004. Luckily, all passengers survived.
According to locals, after the crash, survivors tried making away with as much illicit substance as they could. However, they were subsequently eaten by nearby lagoons. Most of the wreckage remains intact today.
The Douglas R4D8 crashed near Vik, Iceland all the way back in 1973. It had been making a routine supply missing between Hofn Hornafjördur Airport and Stokksnes, Iceland when it crashed into the sandy plane. Luckily, the crew was able to escape.
Though the US Navy salvaged what parts they could from the wreck, the remainder of the plane has become a popular tourist attraction.
The Blistol Blenheim Bomber was struck during an attack in 1941 shortly after taking off from its Maltese air base. The crew had no choice but to land the damaged plane in the ocean, though they were able to be rescued afterwards.
Divers can now access the wreckage at 42 meters below, though it's recommended only for experienced divers.
In 2015, photographer Brandy Mueller took to the Pacific Islands to explore the vast Japanese and US aircrafts that went down during WWII. During his exploration, he came across a mass sunken graveyard containing 150 unaccounted planes. The planes are now covered by a lush lagoon of jungle plants.
While many of the aircrafts on this list are decades old, we can’t say that about the C-130 Hercules that is sunk off the coast of Aqaba, Jordan. This military aircraft sank in 2017 and can be visited by divers.
It has a maximum depth of only 18 meters below the surface, and with typically calm waters, it’s an easy dive for even the most inexperienced divers.
Air Aruba P4-YSA crashed years ago in the jungle on Curacao, a Dutch Caribbean island. The wreckage is still almost fully intact and in good condition, leaving an eerie feeling.
The interesting part of this wreckage is that it remains unknown how it got to its location. It’s believed the remains were left after it landed elsewhere, but how or why remains a mystery. Many people enjoy exploring the wreckage on foot.
Sources: Atlas Obscura, Business Insider, Ranker, Diver Magazine, The Points Guys