Catalina Wreck – Outer Hebrides, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Catalina Wreck

The rusting remnants of a flying boat lie scattered near the site of its fatal crash. 

On a sunny day, Vatersay, the westernmost inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides, looks like an idyllic island paradise with its white sand beaches and sparkling aquamarine waters. But just below the island’s main road lies a sobering reminder of the navigational hazards presented by this dramatic Scottish landscape.

The wreckage is the fateful result of a World War II-era training exercise flown by the Royal Air Force out of Oban on May 12, 1944. During the flight, the flying boat’s crew lost their way and found themselves well off course. The plane’s pilot attempted to gain altitude but crashed into the hillside, killing three of the nine people aboard.

Parts of the wreckage were dragged some way down the hill by the recovery team, but were eventually left just below the road. The crash site has been left as a memorial and can be freely accessed from the roadside. The rusting fragments of the crashed Catalina flying boat remain scattered among the boulders, and there’s a stone pillar bearing a plaque listing the names of those aboard the aircraft.

Know Before You Go

It's possible to stop at the side of the road and walk down to where the wreckage is spread across the hillside. A paved path leads down to the memorial stone. The area is unguarded, and visitors are expected to be respectful and not touch or interfere with the area.

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