Beautiful Betsy Crash Site – Valentine Plains, Australia - Atlas Obscura

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Beautiful Betsy Crash Site

Valentine Plains, Australia

For nearly 50 years this airplane that crashed during World War II remained missing in the remote Australian backcountry. 

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On February 26, 1945, a B-24 Liberator bomber named the Beautiful Betsy went missing on a flight across Australia from Darwin to Brisbane. Onboard were six Americans and two British soldiers. The bomber, which had been damaged in previous combat missions, was now only used for short transportation flights and was slated to be retired once it could be replaced. The reason for the Beautiful Betsy’s crash remains unknown, but both mechanical failure and stormy weather could have been factors.

Several expeditions were dispatched to find the bomber but none were successful and over the decades the missing plane became a largely forgotten mystery. Or it was, until August of 1994, when a park ranger journeyed to a remote section of the Kroombit Tops National Park to survey the effects of a prescribed fire. The fire had cleared the overgrowth of vegetation and the ranger saw something metallic glinting in the sun.

Initially the location of the discovery was kept secret to discourage souvenir hunters and prevent people from trampling over the site until it could be fully studied. The U.S. Army sent over specialists to sift through the crash for artifacts and human remains. Once they were done the site, including the remaining pieces of the Beautiful Betsy, were opened to visitors of the national park. Today trails lead to the debris and signs tell the story of the missing bomber.

Know Before You Go

The location of the crash is deep within the park. A four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle is highly recommended. There is no cell phone reception in much of the area, so travel prepared.

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