Plane Wrecks
Wikimedia Commons via R.L. Rieger

Fascinating Plane Wrecks That Can Still Be Visited Today

History

| LAST UPDATE 07/13/2022

By Xander Sharpe

All around the world, planes have faulted and crashed in freak accidents or have simply been abandoned over time. Some of these sites can be still visited today - let’s take a look at some of the most interesting plane wreckages on earth.

Downed in the Desert - Sinai Desert

During a long-forgotten international conflict in the Middle East known as the Suez Crisis, the Egyptian military shot an Israeli military plane in 1956. After crashing in the Sinai desert, it was left to waste away on the desert plains.

Sinai Desert Plane WreckSinai Desert Plane Wreck
Getty Images/Mondadori Portfolio

It stands as a lonely reminder of the conflict that ended rather poorly for Britain, France, and Israel. There is something almost iconic about this particular sight when one looks at how starkly the wreckage stands against the endless sand and clear blue skies.

The Medellín Cartel's Crash - Norman Cay in the Bahamas

The clear, shimmering waters of Norman Cay in the Bahamas have been attracting holiday-goers for decades. While there's not much besides tranquility above the waves, there is something far darker below. Under the surface, you can find the remains of the Curtiss C-46 Commando.

Norman Cay Bahamas WreckageNorman Cay Bahamas Wreckage
Instagram via @thechristiannegron

You may recognize the name Pablo Escobar, a fellow co-founder of the Medellín Cartel. In the 1980s, he used Norman Cay as a landing strip for their plans, facilitating the smuggling of substances into the U.S.A. This plane was doing precisely that when it crashed in the nearby water.

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Downed Boeing 737 - Bali, Indonesia

The Indonesian island of Bali has a nearly endless supply of tourist attractions. But this one stands out as truly unique - a preserved Boeing 737 in one piece, sitting comfortably near Pandawa Beach. In what could almost be working condition if not for the rust and fungus growing across it, this “wreckage” remains a mystery.

Boeing 737 Bali WreckageBoeing 737 Bali Wreckage
Instagram via @abigail_toller

That’s because no one on the island seems to know how it got there! Theories were made, with the most popular being that the plane was meant to be converted into a restaurant until the owner ran out of cash. No one knows for sure, though. And if that wasn’t strange enough, a few miles away is another abandoned plane!

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Canadian WWII Bomber - Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Here is another fascinating site if you’re willing to make the long hike to get there. Nestled in the forests and swamps of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is the shell of a Canso bomber plane, which made its final ride all the way back in 1945, during World War II.

Canso Bomber Wreckage VancouverCanso Bomber Wreckage Vancouver
Instagram via @vratihornych

During its final flight, an engine malfunction caused the plane to falter and plummet into the forests. It was something short of a miracle that no one died - the crew of 12 was rescued the next day. Interestingly enough, the depth charge the plane had carried was set off and blew a 20-foot crater in the earth nearby.

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American Douglas Super DC-3 - Sólheimasandur, Iceland

Iceland is a relatively remote country, and its landscape is best known for the geothermal springs and glaciers that decorate it. But on this island, near a bench known as Sólheimasandur, sits a very different feature of the land. It's a plane, of course, abandoned on the black sands of the beach.

Sólheimasandur Douglas Super DC-3Sólheimasandur Douglas Super DC-3
Getty Images via Owen Humphreys-PA Images

The hull of the plane is all that was left of the Douglas Super DC-3, crushed by its American crew in 1973. Everyone survived, but for unknown reasons, they left the body of the plane behind. It's a strange and surreally beautiful sight, so it's no wonder so many people travel to see it.

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Soviet MiG 29 - Moscow, Russia

The Soviet MiG 29 is one of the most iconic airplane models ever built, particularly in the arena of war. But it’s been a long time since this aircraft has seen any combat. As for today? The airplane has been left to disintegrate in a leafy suburb of Moscow.

Soviet MiG 29 MoscowSoviet MiG 29 Moscow
Instagram via @planedailymag

This one may be a little harder to visit, as the site is located on an old satellite communications facility that was operated under the USSR. Hence, it is technically considered trespassing to set foot on site. Apparently, there are also abandoned satellite dishes overlooking the area, making it a truly tempting visit.

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Airplane Grave - Papua New Guinea

Even today, the rainforests of Papua New Guinea are known as suffocatingly thick and inhospitable. And during World War II, many soldiers discovered this, as the Pacific island tragically swallowed countless men from all over the world during this period.

Papua New Guinea WreckagePapua New Guinea Wreckage
Getty Images via Historical

And it wasn't just people that were caught in these rainforests. Many airplanes were crash-landed and abandoned on Papua New Guinea, leaving the skeletons of multiple planes scattered amongst the island's trees and palm fronds. Above is an example of one of the many engines left behind.

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British Avro Shackleton - Stratford-upon-Avon, England

Stratford-upon-Avon is best known as the playwright William Shakespeare's birthplace, but there's another compelling reason to visit this English town. That reason is Marston Airfield, a closed site formerly used during World War II by the RAF. Today, only the rusted remains of many out-of-use planes can be found here.

Marston Airfield Wreckage, EnglandMarston Airfield Wreckage, England
Instagram via @patrick_mc_callion

The plane shown in the photo above is called an Avro Shackleton, used by both the RAF and Royal Navy during enemy countries' surveillance missions. These planes were built at the start of the Cold War, but evidently, this one didn't last as long as others.

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Douglas C-47 Skytrain - Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina Border

During the Cold War, Yugoslavia's now-defunct nation held an expansive subterranean secret base, one of the largest on the European continent. Known as the Željava Air Base, it also contained an underground airport, commonly used by this abandoned Douglas C-47 Skytrain.

Željava Air Base WreckageŽeljava Air Base Wreckage
Instagram via @_la_cli_

When the Cold War ended, so did the life of the Željava Air Base, which now sits unused at the border of Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Over the years, the abandoned aircraft has been embraced by nature surrounding it, making for some stunning rural imagery.

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Soviet Ilyushin IL 76 - Umm Al Quwain, UAE

Before the United Arab Emirates formed into how we know it today, there was a confederation known as Umm Al Quwain, located in the Persian Gulf. It was an isolated state, further disadvantaged by its complete lack of lucrative natural resources such as oil or gas.

Soviet Ilyushin IL 76Soviet Ilyushin IL 76
Instagram via @meghird

Then the mysterious Ilyushin IL 76 entered the pictures - a Soviet plane that was simply left behind in Umm Al Quwain's deserts. No crashes, no engine failures, just a large Societ machine left to disintegrate. And to this day, no one is quite sure why.

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Angel’s Ladies Brothel - Beatty, Nevada

Being a “lady of the night” is legal in the US state of Nevada. It was commonly practiced, but some brothels have long since been abandoned. Perhaps the most unusual of these businesses was the Angel’s Ladies Brothel, operating in the town of Beatty.

Angel's Ladies Beatty WreckageAngel's Ladies Beatty Wreckage
Getty Images via John van Hasselt-Corbis

Beatty is a ghost town now, so naturally, the Angel’s Ladies Brothel has been abandoned too. Created initially around a gimmick, the business was run entirely out of an old airplane after it was crashed by trainee pilots. These days, the plane sits empty and alone, left to the dusty plains of Nevada.

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Bangkok Airplane Graveyard - Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand, is famous for the hectic hustle and bustle of its ultra-urban sprawl. It’s hard to imagine that there could be a place as spooky and empty found in the confines of the capital city. But that’s the truth of the Bangkok Airplane Graveyard, a famous tourist attraction where dozens of aircraft have been left.

Bangkok Airplane GraveyardBangkok Airplane Graveyard
Getty Images via Mladen ANTONOV

All of the planes have been stripped of any valuable materials, so today, only the airplanes' shells sit in the Bangkok suburbs. But it hasn't been entirely devoid of value - these days, several families have taken up residence in these airplane shells, using them as rent-free apartments!

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Remains of the Cold War - Grenada in the Caribbean

Like the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, the Caribbean is one of those rare places littered with fascinating plane wrecks. However, one airplane stands out amongst the many, a former Soviet airship left abandoned on the island of Grenada, and its history is worth paying attention to.

Grenada, Soviet Plane WreckageGrenada, Soviet Plane Wreckage
Instagram via @steph.covrette

In 1983, the United States chose to invade Grenada, attempting to undermine and defeat the prevailing communist regime. This plane and others of its kind are the remains of aircraft that were damaged during the invasion, a constant reminder of the island's tumultuous path.

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Cessna 414 Crash - Blue Ridge Mountains, Tennessee

The Blue Ridge Mountains are some of the most awe-inspiring mountain peaks to be found in North America. Spanning Between North Carolina and Tennessee, these mountain ridges are used as popular film locations and hiking spots for locals and travelers alike. But those who hike the Waterrock Knob trail are in for a strange sight.

Blue Ridge Mountains CrashBlue Ridge Mountains Crash
Instagram via @justinleewanderer

In November of 1984, a small Cessna 414 was making a flight over the Blue Ridge Mountains but suffered a horrific crash on the way to its destination. Tragically, there were no survivors of the crash. The remaining wreckage serves as a bleakly beautiful reminder of what passed that day.

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Memorial Airport - Gila County, Arizona

In Central Arizona, you'll find a fascinating location, the Gila River Memorial Airport. It's a somewhat haphazard site that was last used during World War II and now serves as a deteriorating relic of the period. These days it belongs to a local Native American tribe, but the airplanes have been left there.

Gila River Memorial AirportGila River Memorial Airport
Wikimedia Commons via Marine 69-71

This graveyard for aircraft contains a series of planes, some of which are nearly 80-years-old. You might think they would have some value at a museum or exhibition, but it may cost too much money to move the disintegrating models. Instead, they remain in the Arizona desert, with no plans to move them as of yet.

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Iraq War Relic - Al-Qaim, Iraq

You’ll notice that many of these wrecks date back to the Second World War conflicts, but this aircraft is of a different era and a much more recent one at that. It is a relic of the Iraq War, an airplane that was gunned down by US troops at the border that runs between Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi Airforce Jet WreckageIraqi Airforce Jet Wreckage
Getty Images via PATRICK BAZ

This was an area that saw incredible amounts of conflict during this period, so it hardly seems out of space in the arid landscape of Al-Qaim. To this day, the plane's body still sits in the Al-Anbar Desert and is even decorated with Texan imagery, no doubt left behind by the troops who targeted it.

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967 Hawker Siddeley - Belfast, Northern Ireland

While many of Belfast International Airport's airplanes are still in regular use, the same can't be said for this sad-looking aircraft that looms on the airport tarmac's fringes. The 1967 Hawker Siddeley plane has been left out in the cold for years for unknown reasons.

1967 Hawker Siddeley Wreckage1967 Hawker Siddeley Wreckage
Instagram via @irish_aviation

The forlorn passenger plane was once flown regularly by British Airways, and the bright coat of paint beneath the growing moss makes it easy to imagine what it must have looked like in working order. The Emerald Isle is well known for its cold and rainy climate, so the aircraft will likely be swallowed up by moss and mold one day.

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Hotel Costa Verde - Costa Rica

If you thought the Nevada Angel’s Ladies Brothel was a strange enough use for an old airplane, then look no further than the Hotel Costa Verde. This red and orange hotel built of an abandoned aircraft is a unique sight in tropical Costa Rica and probably an even stranger place to stay.

Hotel Costa Verde WreckageHotel Costa Verde Wreckage
Instagram via @costarica.506

Though this old plane is admittedly more glamorous than the others on the list, it’s still an odd sight to see. The Boeing 727 sits within the Manuel Antonio National Park, a rather fantastic resting place. The aircraft was once serviced by South Africa Air and Avianca Airlines and regularly flew between Europe and South Africa.

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Percival Prince - Long Marston Airfield, England

Another abandoned airplane graveyard, the Long Marston Airfield in Central England, has its fair share of forgotten aircraft sitting within it. But there's one particular plane that catches nearly everyone's attention - the Percival Prince, a rather ferocious-looking beast that glowers at the site's entrance.

Percival Prince Plane WreckPercival Prince Plane Wreck
Instagram via @exploringwithcam

This twin-engined Percival Prince was once a cargo plane used for light trips during the Second World War. These days it looks more fitting underwater than in the air, painted to resemble a steel shark nestled in the countryside. The Percival Prince looks almost like a guard for the graveyard, looming over anyone who enters.

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Vought F4U Corsair - Oahu, Hawaii

This is another ravaged crash site that can be slightly difficult to get to. This is because this particular airplane is located on the ocean floor of the Hawaiin Islands of Oahu's coast. Resting on the sand amongst the fish and coral, this fascinating site is only accessible if you're planning to dive into it.

Vought F4U Corsair OahuVought F4U Corsair Oahu
Flickr via Matt Kieffer

The plane is a Vought F4U Corsair, which was last operating in 1948. At the time of its crash, it was on a routine mission to Hawaii from Pearl Harbor. It experienced a fuel malfunction and plummeted into the waters below, where the pilot managed to exit the plane and swim to safety.

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Japanese Aichi E13A-1 - Palau, Pacific Ocean

As it turns out, the F4U Corsair is not the only underwater plane wreck; There is a reportedly large number of wrecks beneath the waves throughout the South Pacific. This includes forgotten underwater relics of the Allies vs. the Japanese conflict during World War II. And in Palau, there is a seaplane left almost entirely intact.

Aichi E13a-1, Palau WreckageAichi E13a-1, Palau Wreckage
Pixabay via arhnue

Just 45 feet below the surface, ambitious photographers often visit this spectacular site because the wreck can still be reached by natural sunlight and shows up well under the camera lens. The particular aircraft is an Aichi E13a-1, a product of the Japanese Navy.

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‘Miss Piggy’ - Manitoba, Canada

When a place is known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” it doesn’t need much else to draw attention. But the town of Churchill in Manitoba is more than just a haven for arctic bears - it’s also the home of a small and remote airport, where this aircraft has been resting since 1979.

Miss Piggy Plane WreckMiss Piggy Plane Wreck
Wikimedia Commons via Mike Beauregard

The airplane is a Curtiss C-46 and suffered a mechanical failure after take-off, causing a crash-landing which resulted in this wreckage not far from the airport tarmac. The three crew members on board were injured, but luckily not too severely. Since then, the plane has been given the nickname “Miss Piggy.”

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Soviet Antonov An-2 - West Cork, Ireland

With its dark green paint job peeking beneath the growing moss on its wings and body, this abandoned biplane almost blends into the shaggy greenery of the hillsides it sits on. Left in the hills of West Cork in southern Ireland, this old engine has seen a lot in its lifetime.

Antonov, Ireland, Plane WreckAntonov, Ireland, Plane Wreck
Instagram via @abandoned_westcork

This plane is an Antonov An-2 model hailing from the Soviet Union and has since made its way across the continent to rest in the Irish countryside. It was initially stolen from its owners, then became a feature of multiple festivals throughout Ireland before retiring in Courtmacsherry.

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Downed Dornier 328 - Southern New Jersey

The Pine Barrens of South Jersey has a strange history, even outside of potential plane wrecks. This area is most famous for the unique folklore surrounding it, particularly the tale of the Jersey Devil. It’s one of the most prominent North American folklore figures and sadly overshadows another fascinating site in the area.

Dornier 328, Jersey, WreckDornier 328, Jersey, Wreck
Instagram via @bentley.photos

This commuter airplane is an old Dornier 328, once used to fly passengers over Europe, and is still adorned with the German flag. Dornier wrecks are not uncommon in European countries, but in New Jersey? People aren’t quite sure how it got there. Rumor has it that it was bought to be part of a paintball range that was never built.

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U.S. McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 - Bataan, Philippines

In June 1991, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, the famous Mount Pinatubo erupted. The catastrophic natural disaster killed hundreds of people, and disaster relief from within the Philippines and other countries was dispatched as soon as possible.

DC-10  Philippines WreckageDC-10  Philippines Wreckage
Wikimedia Commons via R.L. Rieger

But it wasn't only people and buildings that weren't able to escape the ash and molten lava. This McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 was stationed at the US Naval Air Station nearby and fell victim as well, filling up with hot and wet ash as the landscape around it was swallowed by smoke.

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Beriev VVA-14 - Monino, Russia

Perhaps one of the more bizarre entries on the list; This Beriev VVA-14 looks more like a hunched, mechanical turtle than a long-abandoned aircraft. It’s located in Monino, Russia, at the Central Air Force Museum. This type of plane was initially developed during the Cold War to take out US submarines.

Beriev VVA-14, Russia, WreckBeriev VVA-14, Russia, Wreck
Wikimedia Commons via Jno-Open Museum

These impressive aircraft could travel great distances and even take off from water, hence its almost aquatic-looking appearance. These models are rare as their production ended when the designer passed away not long after manufacturing began. Reportedly, this is the last surviving model.

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Trident Sun Jet - Nicosia Airport, Cyprus

In 1974 the island of Cyprus was invaded by the Turkish military. There, an independent republic was established by the majority-Turkish population in the northern part of the island. Today, there is still political controversy in this area since Nicosia, Cyprus's capital city lies right between these states.

Nicosia, Cyprus, Plane WreckNicosia, Cyprus, Plane Wreck
Getty Images via Sean Gallup

In the Greek sections of the island, all international flights go through either Paphos or Larnaca. However, during this conflict in the 70s, the main airport was in Nicosia. When many of Nicosia's administrative centers were moved, the airport was also abandoned, hence why numerous planes like this one have been left behind.

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Sukhoi Su-7 - Shindand, Afghanistan

While this particular site is a fascinating one, it's unlikely you'll ever be able to visit it. This airport looks more like a graveyard today, with a vast collection of abandoned aircraft that once belonged to the Afghan Air Force. The site is a foretold reminder of the nation's struggles over the decades.

Shindand Airfield Plane WrecksShindand Airfield Plane Wrecks
Getty Images via Jonathan Saruk

Initially, the fighter jets on this site were used to defend the country against a Soviet invasion during the 1980s. Today, the shells of these jets have been left to collect dust in the Shindand Airfield. However, they are still used by the Afghan Army and US Special Forces.

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Cessna - Tempelhof Airport, Berlin, Germany

Tempelhof Airport was once one of the largest and most extravagant airports in pre-World War II Europe. Today, it has become a desirable public park centered in the German capital. As of 2008, all flights were stopped and rerouted to Tegel and Schönefeld.

Tempelhof Airport Plane WreckTempelhof Airport Plane Wreck
Wikimedia Commons via Orderinchaos

Tempelhof Airport was something of a cultural icon due to its famed utility against the Soviet Union during the cold war. When the west of Berlin was blockaded by the Soviets, the airport launched an airlift operation that brought food and supplies to Berliners on the other side. Many of those planes can be visited today.

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B-24D Liberator - Atka Island, Alaska

Atka Island is a cold and remote island found at the United States' tip, a part of the distant state of Alaska. Located amongst the Aleutian Islands, this small piece of land is a chain of islands dotted between Alaska and Russia. But it is Atka Island that holds a strange remnant of the past.

Atka Island Plane WreckAtka Island Plane Wreck
Wikimedia Commons via Hillebrand Steve, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Many have forgotten that during the numerous conflicts of World War II, Japanese military forces actually took control of several of the Aleutian Islands, wrestling them from the US's grip. It was used as an essential military airbase for the Japanese, and this wrecked aircraft was an unfortunate liability that crashed in 1942.

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B-24 Bomber - Mount Humphrey, Arizona

Perched high in the mountains of Arizona lies the remains of one of the five prominent crashes that took place throughout WWII. The B-24 bomber is scattered amongst the San Francisco Peaks and in the Mount Humphrey range and is a reminder of the cost of war.

historic plane wrecks visithistoric plane wrecks visit
Instagram via @daniel.matthew.hill

The site is less accessible than the Memorial Airport in Gila County, but park officials and local historians are doing their part to preserve the wreck, which up until recently had gone unnoticed. "I was surprised to see a whole wing with the painted star still on it," a park ranger shared of his discovery.

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Wellington Bomber - Simiane-la-Rotonde, France

This plane wreck belonged to a Squadron of the Royal Air Force and is a memory of the loss of five airmen. The carnage that followed made it incredibly difficult for the French countrymen to identify the victims of the crash, but one readable dog tag led uncovered the crew's identity.

world war plane wrecksworld war plane wrecks
Wikimedia Commons via Nigel Davies

John Huggler, Harry Lane, Neville Green, Walter Jackson, and Eric Howell all lost their lives, but their stories continue to live on. The fatal crash has been commemorated with a plaque, and the remains are still open to visitors in the Southern French village.

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Air Aruba P4-YSA - Willemstad, Curaçao

This next wreck has an air of mystery to it. The exact story behind the accident is unclear to this day, despite the plane belonging to a former airline. The Air Aruba P4-YSA dove into the Caribbean jungle and has since been taken over by the jungle foliage.

plane crash sights touristplane crash sights tourist
Education Images / Contributor via Getty Images

Despite looking like a treacherous trap from an adventure movie, this plane can still be visited today. The wreck has circulated amongst globe trotters and travel photographers, who have flocked to the jungle to track it down. For those able to find it, the remains offer a fairly preserved look at what once was.

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TWA Flight 260 - Albuquerque, New Mexico

The morning of February 19, 1955, started out like any other for the TWA Flight 260 crew. However, they chose to make a detour on their route from Albuquerque to Sante Fe to avoid the Sandia mountains. However, a heavy-set slew of storm clouds disoriented the pilot to a point of no return.

american plane wrecks hikeamerican plane wrecks hike
Instagram via @abqdunn

The crash happened just seven minutes after the plane had left the tarmac. The aircraft and its crew jetted nose-first into the mountain range. Today, a prominent panel from the plane's exterior still stands. The surrounding area has been deemed the "TWA Canyon" by locals and explorers alike.

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The Unknown Wreck - Mission, British Columbia

For those willing to take a stroll, about one hour into the Fraser River Heritage Park in Mission, British Columbia, lies remnants of an identified plane. The pieces are few and far between, making it incredibly difficult to date the wreck, but theories point to the early 1970s.

mysterious plane crash wrecksmysterious plane crash wrecks
Instagram via @civil__shepherd

The pieces, however, have stood the test of Canadian winters. One of them has even been photographed still perched in a tree. Many questions remain for aircraft historians and curious locals. Where did the rest of the wreckage go? And why has no one claimed the remnants?

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America's Takedown of Isoroku Yamamoto - Bougainville, Papua New Guinea

In the Papua New Guinea village of Bougainville lies a historic relic from World War II. Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese admiral, and brains behind Pear Harbor was fired down by American forces. The mission was titled "Operation Vengeance," and sought to level the score after the devastating loss that the U.S. suffered in Hawaii.

plane wrecks visit jungleplane wrecks visit jungle
Wikimedia Commons via Hiroyuki Agawa

The wreck has been open consistently for over fifteen years, according to ABC News, and can be accessed by local Bougainville tours. Historians have flocked to the region to learn more about the ever-growing field of Pacific war combat history. Even the Japanese ambassador to Papa New Guinea stopped by to see the wreckage.

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