‘Happy End’: Miraculous Airplane Crashes where No Passengers Died

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“‘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. The planes remain abandoned in nowhere since 10-70 years. It’s part of my long term project ‘restwert’ (german for residual value) to document abandoned objects with fascinating backgrounds like cold war relicts, olympic sites, flooded churches, railroad tracks, never finished nuclear reactors, overgrown adventure parks etc.” (Support this project at Indiegogo)

This series – says the photographer Dietmar Eckell -is for me more than wrecks not worth to recover: it’s surreal – beautiful airplanes in vast landscapes with wonderful stories. ‘happy end’ is about

  • heroes – the pilots who turned desasters into miracles,
  • destiny – to survive a crash landing and get found in nowhere,
  • time – crashed in seconds and then untouched for decades,
  • space – even majestic airplanes can look lost in vast nature,
  • ‘the end’ – while most get scrapped in junk yards – these found a place to ‘rest in peace’.

It started with my interest in the visual disruption of nostalgic technology in endless landscapes – but soon i got hooked to these planes/stories and spent over two years researching and documenting them. Aviation miracles are rare and the planes remaining out there are very remote – but the challenge was motivation and it was like a pilgrimage to get to these ‘wonders’ on 4 continents from Papua New Guinea to the Arctic Circle.

My photography is not about documenting the planes condition & details but how they are embedded in grand nature after so many years. I try to capture the surreal beauty of these settings using high viewpoints or shooting through layers. Inspired by the shipwreck painters of the romantic period i look for dramatic skies, late light or fall colors to ‘glorify’ these wonderful planes.

What I Need & What You Get

Now I want to share the photographs & stories in a self-published coffee table book and need your help to get it printed. 96 pages with over 50 large pictures along with facts and story of every plane. Clean layout, hard cover, A4 landscape format (8.3×11.7inch), 170gr thick paper, printed by one of the best photo-book printers in Germany. Most of the pictures were taken with 36 or 21 megapixel cameras with amazing details and the spreads up to 60cm wide (23.4inch) will show this quality. It’s a limited edition photo-book for friends of photography, tech-gurus, aviation fans, veterans, explorers, nostalgics and everybody interested in the surreal beauty this world has to offer.

Status: The pictures are selected and the layout is finished. Next are the print-preproduction, proofs and the print-run of 500 books. This will require a total of $6000 which is the stretch goal of the campaign. With $4000 pledged i feel confident to start the production and cover the gap with the sales of the remaining books.

For those more interested in my journey to these remote airplanes there is a ‘The Making Of’ perk for $9. You get access to a 15 episode long online journal – where these planes exactly are, how to get there, google maps, pictures from the journey, links for further research and details to the photography. I will share learnings, failures and anecdotes like getting stuck with the Canadian police, how i lost my oktocopter in polar bear country, how to cross african borders with rebels or settle a land dispute in Papua New Guinea.

Or consider a fine art print in very small editions for your home/office. Up tp 150cm (59 inch) wide prints with amazing details printed on archival museum quality Hahnemühle paper. For details see perks.

About Myself

Since 25 years i have been exploring with my camera the backroads of this fast changing world. My passion are ’empty’ places like the Sahara, Mongolia, Bolivia, Alaska, Australia and Tibet. As mobility/flexibility is key for this kind of photography I normally travel alone by bicycle, motorcycle, 4WD or paramotor. The first abandoned objects i found by chance – today i plan my trips in great detail with the help of the internet. To keep the cost low and the experience real no production companies or professional guides are involved – it’s a one man show and I only rely on the help of locals. You can see more of my work on www.dietmareckell.com  (via)