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A Photographer Quit His Job To Document The Aftermath Of Plane Crashes Around The Globe

Published by Business Insider on Fri, 28 Nov 2014

In 2010, photographer Dietmar Eckell was the general managerfor Southeast Asia at a German Fortune 500 company, working and living comfortably. But, since his childhood, Eckell says he's felt the strong pull of "wanderlust," so that year he resigned his post and began traveling the world, documenting abandoned and decaying relics of earlier times.Since then, he's traveled almost 75,000 miles and visited four continents. "Ihaven't regretted it for one day," Eckell tells Business Insider.For one of his main projects, Eckell researched and photographed 15 downed planes around the globe. The series is titled "Happy End," because not a single passenger died in any of the crashes. "Pictures of fatal airplane crashes are all over the news. There's no need for me to document graves," Eckell told Slate. "I want to surprise the viewer with stories of heroes and miracles and give their viewing experience a 'happy end.'"Acting as part detective, part explorer, and part artist, Eckell traveled by any means necessary to some of the most remote areas of the world, tracking down these abandoned planes, many of which were difficult to locate."It's just a great feeling to finally sit on the wing of a plane that you've been trying to reach for years," he says.Eckell has shared some of his photos here with us. For the full story on many of the planes he visited, we suggest you buy his beautiful new book.Douglas C-47, part of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Crashed near Snag, Yukon, Canada, in 1950. All 6 survived.Eckell had no exact location for the C-47 when he arrived in Snag, Canada. After speaking with the locals, he secured a flight with a friendly pilot who flew him over the wreckage. Later, Eckell attempted to reach the plane on the ground, but that proved treacherous as the land around the wreck was very swampy. Traveling by ATV, "we had to pull eachother out with the trench every five minutes and maybe made one mile per hour," he says. Finally, he arrived at the wreck and documented what was left before the whole thing eventually sinks into the bog.Grumman HU-16 Albatross. Suspected drug-running plane. Crashed near Puerto Escondido, Mexico, in 2004. All survived.Eckell had heard rumors of a "mysterious drug plane" on a remote beach in Mexico, so when found a cheap flight to Ixtapa, he jumped on the opportunity. Upon landing, he rented a car and traveled 45o miles to Puerto Escondido. The locals told him that after the crash, the survivors carried as much cocaine as they could from the wreckage, but were subsequently eaten by crocodiles in the lagoons nearby. Eckell isn't sure if he believes this.Today, the airplane is almost gone. Eckell told Slate, "I document these structures before nature takes them back. Maybe it's a way to make their stories immortal."Avro Shackleton. Crashed in Polisario-controlled area of the Western Sahara in 1994. 19 survived.Eckell found this wreck in the "no-man's land" between Morocco and Mauritania. After days of travel, including 26 hours of non-stop driving and 20 hours on Mauritania's famous iron ore train, he finally arrived at the Avro Shackleton in a remote desert setting. He stood on the roof of his car and held his tripod above his head to get the shot, before making the treacherous drive home.See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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