Since the 1920s, aircraft have been built around the world. Inventory of fighter jets and military cargo planes greatly increased during World War II, as countries rushed to build up their fleet to compete with the enemy. Some of these aircraft crashed in battle, while others were retired to the ocean floor. All around the world, abandoned aircraft are waiting to be discovered — from Antarctica to the desert. Many of them were found decades after they were abandoned. These photos and the stories behind them are truly incredible.
Royal British Air Force Kittyhawk P-40 in the Sahara Desert
This Kittyhawk P-40 sits in the Sahara Desert where it crashed during World War II. A Royal British Air Force Fighter named Dennis Copping is believed to be the pilot who was shot down by German General Erwin Rommel in a chase over the Sahara Desert.
The Kittyhawk has been stripped of its guns and ammunition and will most likely remain at its crash site forever. The Air Force Fighter pilot was never heard from or seen again.
World Airways DC-10 Flew Through a Volcano Eruption
The reason why this World Airways DC-10 hasn’t moved since 1991 is pretty incredible. This commercial passenger plane was in service throughout the 1980s but its career came to an end on June 15, 1991. That’s when the Mount Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines erupted.
It was the second-biggest volcanic eruption in recorded history, and this plane was flying over the volcano at the time. The thick volcanic ash and gas destroyed the plane, and it still sits near Mount Pinatubo today.
Helicopters Pushed Into the Sea in Vietnam
This photo taken on April 29, 1975 shows U.S. Navy servicemen desperately trying to clear the flight deck of the U.S.S. Blue Ridge. Helicopters like this one carried evacuees from Saigon to safety.
With more helicopters on the way, the men had no choice but to push the South Vietnamese helicopter into the sea in order to make room for more aircraft coming in. Operation Frequent Wind rescued more than 7,000 people in the final days of the Vietnam War.
Soviet Aircraft Bartini Beriev VVA-14
This futuristic aircraft was designed by Robert Bartini for the Soviet Union in 1972. It’s unique design was for taking off from the water and flying at high speeds over long distances. The VVA-14 was also built to destroy the United States Navy Polaris missile submarines.
Designed with a turbofan engine and a wing-in-ground-effect, its top speed was 472 mph with a cruising speed of 398 mph. This abandoned aircraft sits in a field in Russia.
A Mysterious Scene in the Woods
This eerie photo shows what appears to be a commercial airliner that crashed in the woods. Judging by the year of the ambulance, it seems this happened sometime in the 1950s. There isn’t any information on how this crash happened but people stumbled across the scene while exploring in the woods.
The interior of the plane is gutted and being taken over by nature, while the car’s windows have the glass blown out of them. There’s a lot of mystery behind this abandoned aircraft.
Soviet Ilyushin Il-76 Cargo Plane in the Desert
This Soviet Ilyushin Il-76 Cargo Plane was used by a man named Viktor Bout to smuggle firearms from Eastern Europe to Africa and the Middle East. Bout was a former Soviet military translator who was known as the “Merchant of Death” for his high-risk smuggling operation.
His operation spanned the 1990s and 2000s before he was arrested by the Royal Thai Police in 2008. The Soviet Ilyushin Il-76 Cargo Plane he used to bypass embargoes sits abandoned in Umm Al Quwain.
Abandoned Saab J-35F Fighter Jet Found in Finland
The Saab J-35F Fighter Jet was designed and flown from 1955 until 1974. The supersonic jet was the first of its kind in Western Europe, and was used by the Swedish Army. Most commonly known as The Draken, it was one of the top fighter jets of its time in dogfights.
Although it performed well, designed with a double delta wing that was innovative for its time, it came with a high manufacturing cost and Saab discontinued the model. This Draken was discovered in rural Finland.
B-17G Flying Fortress Sunk Off the Coast of Vis, Croatia
On November 6, 1944, a US Army Air Force pilot never returned after a flight mission. They didn’t know for sure what happened to Second Lieutenant Ernest Vienneau until 2018, when a British scuba diver and photographer stumbled upon the aircraft.
Steve Jones located the B-17G Flying Fortress 230 feet below, on the sea floor off the coast of Vis, in Croatia. The pilot’s family could finally know the truth- that Vienneau was a hero who sacrificed himself so the other pilots could escape death.
Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber
Although it appears that this Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber crashed to the sea floor, that’s not in fact what happened. This plane was flown by the US Navy and the US Marines, built during World War II.
After the war was over, the military saved money by disposing of the planes in the ocean rather than pay to bring them back to the states. That’s what happened to this aircraft that was discovered by diver and photographer Brandi Mueller.
Elvis Presley’s 1962 Lockheed Jetstar Jet
Pictured here is Elvis Presley’s private 1962 Lockheed Jetstar Jet at the Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico. Elvis acquired many eclectic things in his lifetime and owned multiple jets. This one sat on the runway in New Mexico for 30 years.
Then in 2017, it went up for auction with a starting bid of $100,000, with an estimated value of between $2 and $3.5 million. After sitting on the runway for so long, the jet needs some repair and restoration.
A Seaplane-Turned Luxury Yacht In Saudi Arabia
This PBY-5A Catalina seaplane has an incredible story behind it. After completing its service with the U.S. Navy, this aircraft was purchased by a retired businessman by the name of Thomas W. Kendall. He converted the seaplane into a luxury yacht.
During one trip with his family, Kendall anchored the plane in the sea, close to the shore in Saudi Arabia. There, the Kendall family was viciously attacked by a group of men with machine guns. After being held hostage and interrogated, the family was set free after the American Embassy got involved. This seaplane now sits abandoned between the sea and the desert.
Oregon Man Lives in a Boeing 727
Located in Hillsboro, Oregon, just outside of Portland, Bruce Campbell lives in a decommissioned Boeing 727. After hearing of someone else who was living in a converted Boeing, he just had to do it himself.
Campbell purchased the plane for $100,000 and had it transported to some land he had purchased in a wooded area. Inside, he has a full-stocked kitchen, office, laundry, and bedroom. He also kept some of the spaces original for nostalgia.
A Columbian Narcoplane Shot Down in Mexico
This plane sunken into the sand on the shore of Mazunte, Mexico is rumored to have been a plane carrying narcotics, coming from Columbia. The aircraft was shot down by the Mexican Army nearly 20 years ago, and is slowly sinking into the sand.
There’s no reports of who was flying the plane, or a confirmed account of its purpose, but it’s very common for drug runners to use aircraft to bypass authorities and smuggle illegal substances internationally.
The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group is nicknamed “The Boneyard.” It’s a large storage facility for the United States Air Force, located in Tucson, Arizona at an air force base.
The facility spans 2,600 acres and stores WWII B-29 bombers and C-47 cargo planes. There’s approximately $35 billion worth of aircraft at this location. There are a reported 4,000 aircraft and 70 different weapons systems at The Boneyard. They first started storing aircraft here in 1946.
Bell P39Q Airacobra Found in a Russian Lake
This P-39Q belonged to the Soviet Air Force from World War II. The pilot who was flying this aircraft was forced to land the plane in the lake, where it sunk. In 2004, it was discovered at the bottom of Lake Mart-Yavr in the Arctic Circle in Russia.
This plane was designed to match the aircraft of the United States, and it was one of the main aircraft used by the Soviets during the war, proving a high kill rate.
Curtiss C-46 Commando in Chonburi, Thailand
This United States aircraft was used for military transport during World War II. It was used by the U.S. Army Air Force, U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Marine Corps. After the war ended, some were converted to be used as passenger airliners.
This C-46 was first stored in Bangkok before being transported to Chonburi. It’s one of two that are located in Thailand. There are several others in Japan, China, Brazil, and other countries across the world. The military is holding on to many of them in case they need to be used for service again.
B25 Bomber in South Carolina
This B25 bomber had crashed into Lake Murray in South Carolina but was retrieved. There are many other planes like this one found around the area, as the Air Force used the grounds for exercises.
The Lake Murray region has debris found all around the area from the military exercises. One man paid to have this plane retrieved from the lake with plans of preserving it and displaying it at a state university. There are plenty more where that came from!
C-121 Lockheed Constellation in South Antartica
This is one of the most remote abandoned aircraft by far. This C-121 Lockheed Constellation sits on an airstrip at McMurdo Sound in South Antartica. This plane had to make an emergency landing after hitting bad weather. Although it touched down on rough terrain, no one on board was injured when it landed on October 8, 1970.
The airstrip is no longer in service, last operating on December 8, 2016, so this aircraft will remain here indefinitely. The cold air has kept it in good condition.
Hairdresser’s House Burned Down So She Bought A Boeing
Bruce Campbell wasn’t the first person to convert a Boeing 727 into their home. In fact, he got the idea from a woman named Joanne Ussery. After her home burnt down in a fire, she decided to purchase a Boeing 727 for $2,000 and deliver it to her lakeside property in Mississippi.
After paying for the cost of delivery and renovation, Ussery paid a total of $25,000. She couldn’t be happier living in her jet by the lake!
The Dassault Mirage III In A Graveyard
The Dassault Mirage III is a single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft that was introduced to be better than the Mach 2 in horizontal flight, and was the first Western European aircraft to do so. This one is one of the many aircraft that are now abandoned at Châteaudun Aircraft Graveyard/Storage Facility in France.
The facility was opened in 1934 and has been used countless times by the French Air Force. This specific plane was produced in large numbers and has been used in combat on several occasions.
WB-29 Superfortress AKA “Lady of the Lake”
This plane somehow ended up in the lake to was used for open water extraction training. This WB-29 Superfortress has been nicknamed “Lady of the Lake,” sitting in its watery grave on Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.
It was flown during World War II between Alaska and Japan, locating Soviet nuclear testing. It was taken out of inventory at the Air Force base in 1955 and has been sitting in the water for decades.
Bristol Type 170 Freighter
This British twin-engine aircraft was designed during World War II. The Bristol Type 170 Freighter was mainly used to carry cars and passengers over bodies of water and long distances.
However, design updates that the British Air Ministry requested weren’t completed in time for these planes to be used during the war. This one crashed on May 30, 1956, and sits abandoned on the edge of Beaverlodge Lake in a remote area of Canada. It would be very difficult to remove the large aircraft from its crash site. Over 60 years later, it’s still sitting there.
Boeing 737 In Bali, Indonesia
Surrounded by shipping containers in the middle of a field, this airplane has been a popular tourist attraction since around 2007. Located just a few minutes from Pandawa Beach on the southern coast of the Bukit Peninsula, visitors will arrive at a limestone quarry by taking the Raya Nusa Dua Selatan Highway.
They’ll find a Boeing 737 that was rumored going to be turned into a restaurant, although it never happened. However, you can visit the attraction, although you have to pay a fee to get past security.
Boeing 747 In Black Rock Desert
After one year’s Burning Man festival, this aircraft was left to rot in the desert. The festival is based on the ten main principles of radical inclusion, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, gifting, decommodification, participation, immediacy, and leave no trace, and is located in the Black Rock Desert. It lasts for up to a week.
During the festivities, the plane was used as a music venue, fitted with a dance floor, lighting, and a sound system. Apparently, there are plans to have it removed.
Boeing 747 In South Korea
Located in South Korea, this abandoned aircraft was turned into a restaurant by an entrepreneur until the restaurant closed down as well. Interestingly, the plane can be found near a series of residential apartment buildings, directly next to the highway.
Unfortunately, the quality of the food and the ambiance weren’t the greatest, despite how cool it might look from the outside. Before it was serving up food, it was the second jumbo jet to undergo a series of rigorous flight tests.
Tu-128UT Fighter Jet In Russia
Incredibly, this plane isn’t just in the middle of nowhere in Russia, but is also very rare. It is one of just ten that were produced in the 1970s and is possibly the only one left today.
This plane was found at a plane repair location in Izhevsk, Russia, and was most likely used to transport Soviet border guard interceptor pilots. The Soviet Union began using these plains in the 1960s and they were the largest and heaviest fighter the country has ever used in service.
Tornado ZA466 In Saudi Arabia
This Tornado ZA466 was used during the Gulf War in 1991. However, it was damaged beyond repair and had to be retired. This particular plane is a family of twin-engine combat aircraft which were manufactured in Italy, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
During the war, the Tornado was involved in numerous low-altitude strike missions and was also used by the former country Yugoslavia during the Bosnian War and Kosovo War. The same planes were also used in the Iraq War, Libyan Civil War, as well as Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria.
Unidentified Aircraft In Bryson City, North Carolina
This aircraft was discovered by a drone that was flying over an airfield near Gallimore Road and Greenville Highway. The airfield was almost as interesting, with early photos showing that it had an unpaved runway, with 7seven T-hangars and one single-engine aircraft.
The multiple hangars were eventually replaced by one big one. In 2017, FAA Airport/Facility Directory claim that it is now owned by Valley Auto Sales and is going to be closed indefinitely.
Random Plane In The Bahamas
This was a plane discovered in the beautiful Bahamas, which was discovered to have been used for smuggling at some point. The cartels tended to use these old planes until they want to get rid of them by abandoning or crashing the planes.
Many of these planes were used until they were no longer safe to fly or were intercepted by the authorities. However, there are always those few lucky criminals that manage to evade the police and ditch the plane.
USAAF B-24D Liberator In The Libyan Desert
This plane is known as the Lady Be Good, which is a USAAF B-24D Liberator that disappeared somehow during its first time in combat during World War II. It’s believed that the Lady, along with its nine-man crew, disappeared over the Mediterranean while returning to its base in Libya.
However, it was eventually discovered 440 miles inland in the Libyan Desert by an oil exploration team on November 9, 1958. It’s assumed that the crew didn’t know that they flew past their base and into a sandstorm.
B-24A-CO Liberator In Alaska
Here is a plane that was abandoned on Atka Island in Alaska after it was forced to make a crash landing in 1942. By 1976, the US Navy had removed its weapons. This plane is considered to be a heavy bomber even though it was the first aircraft to routinely cross the Atlantic Ocean.
The only time it was really used was during World War II. By the end of the war, further development in aircraft essentially made the plane usless and it was phased out of service.
Curtis C-46 Commando In The Waters Off The Bahamas
This is an example of a smuggling plane used by Pablo Escobar that crashed in the Bahamas when on its way to south Florida. The plane is located off of Norman’s Cay in the Exuma corner. It’s a military transport plane from World War II.
So, in the 1970s, when the island was a hotspot for criminals and traffickers, they constructed their own runways fit with armed guards to protect their hauls. Of course, they weren’t always successful.
Plane Parked In A Backyard
Incredibly, this plane is in someone’s backyard right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. While it’s not unusual not to know what’s behind your neighbor’s fence, this one is clearly hard to keep hidden.
It’s not unusual for people to buy planes in order to turn them into homes, offices, or just about anything else that they can manage to fit inside. We doubt that anyone wants to have their morning coffee while staring at a giant airplane.
A Group Of Old Japanese Bombers
These planes were abandoned at the end of World War II. They’re located at the Natsugi Naval Airbase in Yamato and Ayase’s cities in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. This is the largest of the United States Navy air bases in the Pacific Ocean.
The Imperial Japanese Navy initially built it in 1938 to house one of the most formidable fighter squadrons of World War II. The base has also seen a lot of action from both the Vietnam and Korean war.
A Plane In South Vietnam After The Fall Of Saigon
Also known as the Liberation of Saigon, this is a picture of the effects of the events that unfolded on April 29, 1975. This was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam by the People’s Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam.
This marked the end of the Vietnam War and resulted in the evacuation of almost all American civilians and military units in the area. It’s clear that the plane didn’t get the memo.
Graveyard In Nigeria
These abandoned planes in Nigeria have caused quite some controversy over the years. The country has been dumping old passenger planes in abandoned airports for years.
The ones in the pictures have been there for so long that the surrounding earth is beginning to cover them up. Yet, in 2013, the Nigerian government began enforcing that all aircraft that are no longer functioning had to be taken care of more efficiently rather than just leaving them to rot.
USAF C-47 In The Yukon
This particular plane crashed on the Gauli Glacier in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland on the way back on November 19, 1946. Amazingly, the plane is still almost completely intact because of the ice that it’s surrounded by.
The crash gained worldwide attention after it collided with the glacier in poor visibility. There were eight passengers on board that included two high-ranking US military officers, four women, a young girl, and four crew. There were some injuries but no fatalities.
Curtiss C-46 In Canada
In 1973, this Curtiss C-46 Commando crashed in the scenic along Hudson Bay in Canada. Thankfully, all of the three passengers inside were okay. The plane was called Miss Piggy and was operated on Lamb Air, ironically, because at one point it actually carried pigs when it crashed.
The aircraft experienced a loss of oil pressure in the left engine, and when trying to retreat back to the airfield, they hit some hydro poles and went down. It has since been used to shoot a movie.
Ki-51 Dive Bombers In Korea
The Ki-51 dive bomber, also nicknamed “Sonia,” was in service with the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, although they first took flight in 1939. First used against the Chinese, they soon realized they were too slow to fight against the Allied powers.
Nevertheless, the plane proved useful in ground-attack roles in the China-Burma-Theater as opposed to other planes when the airfields were too rough. Toward the end of the war, they were used for kamikaze attacks, with many of them remaining today at the former Pyeongtayk airbase in Korea.
1965 Being 727 Located In Costa Rica
This once fully-operational plane was eventually turned into a luxury hotel room where guests can stay in it for £2,000 a week. It once belonged to the Colombian Avianca Airlines and now resides on the coast of the Costa Rican rainforest. It’s part of the Costa Verde resort in Manuel Antonia National Park.
The plane itself has been converted into a two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite that also features a kitchenette entertainment with a dining room, view of the ocean, and a deck on the plane’s wing.