Found An Abandoned Airplane While Exploring The Beach

It all started while I was exploring an abandoned neighborhood at the end of my beach in Thailand that has been reclaimed by nature. Hundreds of luxury houses built but never occupied, roads completely overgrown, it was an unexpected find. However the best discovery was sitting in the middle of an overgrown field behind all of this: a neon-colored abandoned airplane.

Cockpit of Nok Air plane registration code HS-TRB. It's currently being overgrown by nature in Rayong, Thailand
Much like the nearby neighborhood, this colorful Nok Air plane is being reclaimed by nature.

Despite tweeting photos of the airplane when first discovering it, I did not want to blog about the plane or publicly reveal its location……until now 😉 Enough time has passed. Plus I’ve already taken several friends and fellow travel bloggers out to see it. I think it is safe to write about the Nok Air plane next to Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand.

Nok Air plane abandoned in the woods near Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand.

The Story Behind The Abandoned Airplane

It turns out that this Nok Air plane was purchased to be part of the decorations for a new luxury beach resort being built on this end of the beach. Four years later and the resort is still under construction. Meanwhile, the airplane has become overgrown by nature.

Nok Air plane (registration code HS-TRB) abandoned in the woods near Mae Rumphueng Beach, Rayong, Thailand.
Nok Air plane HS-TRB abandoned in the woods near Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand.
Abandoned Nok Air plane HS-TRB discovered in the woods near Mae Ramphueng Beach, Rayong, Thailand.
ATR 72-201 with registration HS-TRB is a Nok Air plane currently abandoned in an overgrown field near Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand.
Found an abandoned airplane in the woods near Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand. Still has its colorful Nok Air paint job.

HS-TRB History

In 1990 this ATR 72-201 began life as a Thai Airways plane. It was assigned registration code HS-TRB and named “Chai Nat”

Chai Nat is both a town and a province in Thailand. It translates to “place of victory” and earned its name from defeating multiple Burmese attacks during the Ayutthaya period.

For two decades HS-TRB flew with Thai Airways until it was sold to budget airline Nok Air in November of 2009. The airplane was repainted from purple and white to the much more flamboyant and bright colors of the Nok Air fleet.

In 2013 the plane was officially retired and put into storage at Don Mueang Airport (DMK) in Bangkok. It was 2017 when I first discovered the abandoned airplane in Rayong but apparently it had already been there for almost a year, according to locals.

Nok Air plane abandoned in the woods near Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand.

How did the plane get here?

Next to the abandoned airplane is a hastily-made landing strip that measures only 1,300 ft (400m) in length. Drove my motorcycle down it and was surprised at how bumpy it was. Landing that plane here must have been one helluva gnarly experience for the pilot!

Aerial view of the abandoned airplane at Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand

Wedged between a highway and a beach, the landing approach involved a low pass over the highway and very low pass over the houses next to the highway followed by a rough landing and abrupt stop. But hey, at least the beach and water were right there in case the plane had overshot its extremely short landing strip.

Aerial view of the abandoned airplane at Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand
Despite the circle at the end of the landing strip for the aircraft to rotate, it would be impossible for any size aircraft to take off from such a short runway.

A hole was torn in the stone wall near the landing strip just barely wide enough to pull the aircraft through, allowing it to be parked at its new home.

Aerial view of HS-TRB, the abandoned airplane on Mae Rumphueng Beach in Rayong, Thailand
Aerial view of HS-TRB abandoned on Mae Rumphueng Beach, still as neon as the day she was first painted. Photo via Taran of Nomad’er How Far

How do I get here?

Want to visit the abandoned Nok Air plane in Rayong? Just head to the western end of Mae Rumphueng Beach.

If you are on foot simply continue walking past the end of the beach and neighborhood.

On motorcycle (or car) you can drive into Pricha Village and park at the very back on Soi 18 or Soi 20, near the resort that is being built.

Either way, you can’t miss it! 😉

What’s the coolest thing you have ever found on a beach?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

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