Continue your search for the Dharma Initiative with this passenger jet lying forgotten on a Caribbean Island, slowly being reclaimed by nature.
©Nothing quite captures the imagination than discovering the ruins of a wrecked airplane. Recently the Society for Gentleman Explorers discovered just such a plane, hidden away on the old Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, seemingly just left behind and forgotten in the tropical undergrowth.
About half an hour outside of the old Colonial capital of Willemstad, where brightly coloured Queen Anne houses adorn the waterfront, and nestled in the foothills of the southern mountains surrounding the salt pans of Jan Thiel, is the final resting place of Air Aruba flight P4-YSA.
We caught a glimpse of ruined fuselage from the window of a bus heading for Kontiki beach, jungle.
Climbing inside you can still see the old reading lights and stewardess call buttons on the overhead panels, whilst derelict oxygen masks are strewn on the cabin floor. The cockpit windows have gone; tropical flowers and palm fronds growing over the altimeters, air pressure dials, fuel pump gauges, and empty pilots seats. Walking through the wrecked airplane, it seems as though the plane crashed into the Caribbean jungle decades ago, and all the passengers simply disappeared.
The airplane was a turboprop airliner originally designed by the Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Company of Japan. Built between 1962 and 1974, the NAMC YS-11s were capable of carrying 60 passengers and looked similar to the multipurpose American Douglas DC-3s. But they have quite a turbulent history.
Of the 182 originally built by the NAMC in Japan, there have been over 20 hull loss accidents leading to over 260 deaths. One of the planes, run by Korean Air, was hijacked in 1969 over North Korean airspace; the plane, its crew and passengers are supposedly still held in North Korean territory. In 1976 one of the planes, owned by Olympic Airways, crashed into the side of a mountain in Kozani, Greece. The history of the planes is one of forced landings, overshooting runways, and being ditched at sea.
This particular plane was bought and run by the small commercial airline, Air Aruba, that ran short haul flights throughout the Caribbean, until declaring bankruptcy in 2000.
Start your vacation to the Dutch Caribbean with warm hospitality on an airline dedicated to your comfort. Air Aruba combines the natural Aruban amiability with a professional willingness to serve. We are finely tuned to the unique needs divers may have. Relax in plush, roomy seats, sipping complimentary cocktails as our team dedicates themselves to offering the best possible airline service.
– Old Air Aruba Brochure
Air Aruba originally bought two planes from NAMC. One, registered P4-YSB currently lies in 40 feet of water in the reefs surrounding Aruba. Damaged beyond repair during a hurricane in 1999, it was intentionally sunk where it now enjoys a new lease of life as a popular scuba diving wreck.
Its twin plane, P4-YSA, ended up in Curaçao. At one point, the plane, became shorn of its wings and twin props, and was planned to be used as a restaurant. An adjoining brick and adobe structure on the starboard side of the plane was to house the kitchens, whilst diners enjoyed the unusual setting for their evening meal. But the restaurant never came to fruition. But no records show who owned the plane, or how it came to be here. It remains a captivating mystery, silently falling apart and forgotten.