Dietmar Eckell’s Photos of Plane Wrecks With “Happy Ends”

May 19, 2013 2 comments

Airplane wrecks usually denote tragedies, but photographer Dietmar Eckell aims to highlight the rare miracles from the history of aviation where everyone survived.

"'Happy End' is a photo-project about miracles in aviation history - 15 airplanes that had forced landings but all on board survived and were rescued from the remote locations," says Dietmar Eckell a photographer from Dusseldorf, Germany.

For nearly three years, Eckell trekked to extremely isolated locations across the world — nine countries on four continents — from Australia to Iceland looking for abandoned remains of plane wreckage. These planes have remain abandoned from anywhere between 10-70 years and have become part of the landscape. In the forests, trees grow through broken windows. In the desert, piles of sand conform to the shape of the fuselage. In the mountains, their gray metal innards start to resemble the rocks around them. According to Eckell, all wreckage involve stories of survival and sheer luck.

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West Sahara

To find the wrecks, Eckell sifted through internet forums, dug through archives and searched Google Earth. Once he had a general region, he began surveying local pilots to see if they had details on a specific location. The quest to find these downed plane were like a trip through history. In Papua New Guinea, he had to cross through communities that still clung to centuries-old traditions and had no electricity or running water. While chasing another wreck in North Africa he had to negotiate with a local rebel group in order to get transported across the border from Mauritania into Western Sahara.

Eckell couldn’t get to the most remote crashes in places like Antarctica and Greenland because it was too expensive, but he is trying to raise money for the project.

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West Sahara

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via Wired


  1. It would be far more interesting with at least a few basic facts about the planes and how they got there. A lot less of the silly "Happy snaps" bulldust would be nice too. Save that for disneyland .

    1. Okay. They were flying, then they landed. Everyone lived and later went to Disneyland. The end. Now go away.


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