Airplanes have always been regarded as a more majestic vehicle. Something about being able to take to the air makes a plane look magical and empowering for people to watch. It also means that when one becomes abandoned, the sight is sadder than for other types of vehicles. Most lost planes are due to crashes and thus, it’s understandable they’re in such terrible shape. But others are notable for how they are still in very good or even excellent condition but simply left behind somewhere. Often, they’re military planes abandoned when a conflict ends. Russia alone has scores of “plane graveyards” from when the USSR collapsed.
In other cases, it’s a civilian airplane that just ends up abandoned somewhere for little reason. Other cases can include planes that were just left behind when the line was discontinued or an airline went out of business. It’s amazing to see how some are in near ruins while others are actually in great condition and ready to fly. No matter the case, it’s interesting how these planes look left behind. Here are 20 pics of abandoned airplanes that reveals the aftermath of when impressive vehicles become grounded, big time.
20 Jersey Devil
We know New Jersey for some offbeat discoveries by the roads and in the woods. Yet finding a full scale military jet crashed is something else.
In 1962, a Lockheed T2V-1 SeaStar crashed in the woods near West Milford. While the engine was removed quickly, the rest of the plane was left out there as it was hard to get the remains easily moved considering how far into the woods it was. It’s become a popular sight for explorers to marvel at this old jet in the home of the Jersey Devil.
19 Snow Angel
It’s pretty common to find the remains of planes in cold weather areas and mountains. That’s because the harsh climates and remote locations make it nearly impossible to take the debris away.
While many are utter wrecks, it’s amazing how some are still in great shape. This cargo plane was forced to land when its engines froze and remains stuck on a snowy hill. It still looks like it’s in pristine condition and serves as a chilling view of a great plane turned into a forgotten sight.
18 Heavy Load
The Soviet military seemed to go for the old line of “there’s no kill like overkill.” Supporting that notion is the “Lun,” a 400-ton aircraft dominated by wings carrying several cruise missiles along with a very bulky body. It was even designed to land on the water if it had to.
It turned out the plane was simply too expensive to mass-produce and its huge weight meant they could only use it for short trips. Only one model was completed and now rests at an old naval station to be a popular sight in Russia.
17 Art Gallery
Whenever an abandoned place is discovered, it’s not long before the graffiti artists come out to play. A few airplane graveyards have now doubled as art galleries and it’s astounding to see the paint covering these planes.
“The Boneyard Project” is a popular movement that turns these machines into a canvas for artists to have fun. This Tucson, Arizona, lot showcases several of these works. While they are lovely, it’s also sad to see these flying machines turned into grounded art.
16 St Augustine Find
St Augustine, Florida, is the oldest city in the United States. Many of its original Spanish buildings still stand today as tourist attractions with the city enjoying its old style.
A more recent attraction was an airplane graveyard. It was home to several Grumman S2 Trackers. These naval bombers had been discontinued in the 1980s and somehow made their way to a resident's backyard. They were finally cut up and sold for scrap but, for several years, the city had another type of ruins in its history.
15 Fallen Fighter
Located in Châteaudun, France, this area had once been a pretty top-notch air base. It took severe damage in World War II and afterward, France was too busy rebuilding to focus on getting the base back into shape. Instead, it was used as a storage facility for scores of planes and a training facility for emergency workers. It closed down in 2014 with many planes abandoned.
This Dassault Mirage III lying on its back shows a chilling sight of a once good airfield.
When the USSR collapsed almost overnight in 1991, it threw the entire military for a loop. Before they knew it, hundreds of bases were abandoned without warning. Some remained open for a time such as Vozdizhenka which rests by the Chinese border. They finally abandoned it in 2007 with several fighters left behind. That included this Mig with the terrific shot of it reflected in the water as if a reminder of the great base that was.
13 Nasty in Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee isn’t known as a great aviation town. Yet it has the remains of what appears to be a once top-notch cargo plane. It’s right off the main runways of the John C. Tune Airport and looks as if it was coming in for a landing but stopped short of the runway.
It was towed further off so it wouldn’t be a distraction but remains on airport grounds. It’s an intriguing sight of a lost plane in the heart of Music City.
Most “plane graveyards” are out in the open at long-abandoned airfields. This is far more striking as it’s literally an underground tomb. In the late 1990s, Albania and Yugoslavia were having some serious tensions and Albania was worried about a full-scale invasion. They kept these jets in safety but the whole thing ended up blowing over.
The jets remain there today, 20 years after they shuttered the base down. Underground explorers love to check out this amazing find.
11 The King’s Jet
Normally, anything having to do with Elvis Presley is quickly snatched up by collectors. For some reason, no one seems to be interested in a full-scale jet. This 1962 Lockheed JetStar 1329 was detailed by Presley with red velvet interiors and various additions. After his passing, it settled on a runway in (of all places) Roswell, New Mexico. People just weren’t that interested in buying a jet that belonged to “the King.”
It went up for auction yet this plane remains on the runway to this day.
10 Beach Comber
The “narco planes” are a notorious line used for various criminal enterprises across Mexico and South America. There’s a severe risk to these things and this plane which was shot down by authorities proved that. It ended up landing in a bizarre way mostly intact but half of it buried in the sand by the coastal town of Mazunte.
The locals just leave it alone as if worried moving it will bring some of the pilots’ bad luck down upon them.
9 The Airport Graveyard
Nigeria is a very poor nation that has often failed to meet the basic needs of infrastructure. This has led to several of their airports failing which means a few turned into full-on airplane graveyards. One of the most striking is the Benin City Airport which boasts over a dozen planes from Okada Air which went belly-up virtually overnight in 1997.
The planes are grouped as if waiting for some take-offs that will never happen and can even be viewed on Google Earth.
8 Chopper Down
Over the years, Moscow has changed a lot and that includes getting rid of many of the old USSR leftovers. Thus, the old Khodynka Aerodrome has been transformed into a graveyard for scores of disused Soviet aircraft. These include this MI-24 heavy attack copter which had seen service in Afghanistan.
The entire area has become a major area for aviation buffs to admire these bygone military vehicles of a once mighty nation.
7 Grounded Lightning
One of the wilder bits of abandoned planes is how, over time, they seem to settle into odd positions. This English Electric Lightning Jet remains the only UK-built fighter plane to reach Mach 2. They were discontinued in the 1980s and while many were recycled, a few were just left outside.
This Lightning looks as if it was attempting a rough landing with the nose still sticking up in the air. It’s a harsh grounding of a once-great fighter.
6 Shell of Itself
Back in the early 2000s, the Senai Airport in Malaysia acquired two commercial jets and a cargo plane for over a hundred million dollars. For various reasons, none of the planes were ever used as the airport has faced financial struggles over the years.
For years, the planes laid about and were soon surrounded by a mountain of garbage and unclaimed luggage. The planes were finally auctioned off, yet it’s wild how long they just sat on this runway.
One might believe this plane must be located in some distant jungle land. It’s actually just a few miles outside of London, England. It’s near the Skylark Hotel in Southend as it appears to have towed from Heathrow Airport sometime in the 1950s.
Why it was left behind is still unknown but it’s amazing to see it overgrown with grass and vines. That it lies just an hour from one of the world’s most famous cities makes it more notable.
4 Real Life Lost
This is one of the more famous abandoned planes in the world. In Bali, just off the Pandawa Beach on the Bukit Peninsula lies a Boeing 737 inside a rock quarry.
It may appear to have made an emergency landing but no one is sure. Incredibly, no one knows exactly where this plane came from. It seemed to appear virtually overnight with no records of its ownership. It’s become a popular tourist attraction as people wonder how this bizarre landing was made.
3 Jumbo Junk
Seoul is home to many odd attractions but this remains one of the most stunning.
This was only the second Boeing Jumbo Jet ever built and was a star when airplanes were a luxurious trip. When it was finally discontinued, it ended up in Seoul, where much of the interior was transformed into a restaurant. However, it still looks in bad shape from the outside. It looks as if it landed in the city and just left behind for an odd sight.
2 Hampered Hawk
In 1942 Flight Sgt. Dennis Copping took off on a routine flight in Africa but his plane was lost. Records indicate it was shot down on orders of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel himself. Copping survived the crash but perished trying to escape the desert.
After being lost for 70 years, the Kittyhawk was finally found, stripped of its weapons and many parts. It remains in the desert as a testament to an amazing World War II story.
1 Sahara Victim
The Sahara Desert is like the Atlantic Ocean in one regard: it's home to countless crashed aircraft long lost to time.
This Avro Shackleton was on a flight in 1994 when it flew into a huge sandstorm. The engines were clogged with sand and it was forced down. Incredibly, all 19 passengers survived and escaped to civilization. The plane itself remains where it was, battered by the elements, as yet another victim of this harsh wasteland.
Sources: atlastobscura.com, popularmechanics.com, gizmodo.com, drivepedia.com