The Miss Piggy Plane Wreck Site
Location: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada (Amundson Road)
When to visit: Daylight hours
Cost: Free to access the site, but you’ll need to join a paid tour or rent a car to get there
Time needed: 10-20 minutes
Most people who make the journey to Churchill, Manitoba come to see the polar bears. Or possibly the beluga whales. While in town, tourists are often surprised to learn about another quirky attraction: The so-called Miss Piggy plane wreck site.
In 1979, a Lamb Air C-46F crashed after takeoff due to an oversized load. It attempted to make it back to Churchill Airport, but fell just short and landed on a rocky patch of land near the coast.
Thankfully, nobody lost their life, and the aircraft remained mostly intact. The wreckage was never moved, and today it’s become a quirky tourist attraction for Churchill visitors. You can even go inside and explore the interior of the plane.
How can you visit the Miss Piggy crash site? What will you see? Can you climb on the plane wreckage? Is there danger from polar bears?
Let’s answer all of these questions, explore the history of the aircraft, and explain why it crashed in the first place.
Why the Churchill Plane Crashed
November 13, 1979 was the fateful day that the plane took off from Churchill. It was a Curtiss C-46 Commando cargo plane, operated by Lamb Air. According to the Manitoba Historical Society, this particular plane had been used by the U.S. military during World War II.
Why was the plane called Miss Piggy? Apparently, this plane was so sturdy that it could carry large loads, and in fact once transported several pigs as cargo. Thus, the Miss Piggy nickname was born!
On this day, the plane carried a crew of three, one snowmobile, and many cases of soda pop, reportedly bound for Chesterfield Inlet.
Just before 9:30 am, the plane suffered mechanical issues, reportedly a loss of oil pressure in one of the engines. The pilot tried to return to the airport, but one wing hit poles and caused a crash landing less than a half-mile short of the airport runway.
It’s unfortunate that the plane went down on this small rocky and hilly section, because that undoubtedly made for a more traumatic landing. Two of the crew were injured, but all three survived.
Most C-46 Commando planes are no longer in service, but there are still a few in use around the world.
What You’ll See at the Miss Piggy Wreckage
The body of the plane is almost fully intact. The windows and doors are gone. The left wing is broken in half. A couple scattered pieces of the plane sit on the ground.
The wings are strong enough that you can walk on them. It’s possible to enter the plane and take a look around, although you won’t see much. Remember this was a cargo plane, not a commercial airliner, so there weren’t rows of seats. Just a big empty space and a wooden floor. You can walk into the cockpit and see the instruments.
The original plane colors have been painted over. Currently, there’s an intense mural on the body of the plane, featuring skulls and flowers. The mural was done by artist Pat Perry as part of a 2017 project to create art murals all around Churchill.
Perry wrote, “It is with my utmost humility that I ask for understanding and grace from the people of Churchill as to why I couldn’t make something more cheery on the beloved Miss Piggy plane wreck, and it is my greatest wish that you find a sincere expression of solidarity in the artwork I’ve made.”
I think Perry’s work is outstanding. The skulls add a sense of haunting, and the flowers seem to represent rebirth and life. The crash has been turned into a wonderful piece of art.
The plane is surrounded by pine trees, and you can see Hudson Bay from the wreck site. If you’re here in the fall during polar bear season, expect high winds to be whipping as you explore the plane. Bundle up!
I visited the wreckage as part of a Churchill town tour. Our guide carried a rifle, because polar bears can and do pass through this area, and they are extremely dangerous. At least I got to pose with the rifle:
How to Get to the Miss Piggy Plane Wreck Site
There’s no official address for the plane crash site. It’s located at the intersection of Amundson Road and Robert Crescent. The GPS coordinates are: 58.760751780317186, -94.0859484312165.
Or just type “Miss Piggy plane wreck” into Google Maps or Waze and the location will pop up. From the heart of Churchill, it’s a 4.5 mile drive (7 minutes) to reach the site.
In theory, you can get here by walking 3.5 miles (about 1 hour) straight along the coast from Churchill. But that is highly discouraged due to the danger from polar bears. Seriously, unless you have a rifle, you don’t want to be wandering around this area. Polar bears are far more vicious than black or grizzly bears. If one spots you, you are in big trouble.
So just drive here with a rental car, or join one of the Churchill town tours, which visit all of the city’s quirky attractions, such as the Polar Bear Holding Facility and Cape Merry at the Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site.
Make sure to find time to visit the crash site while you’re in town taking Churchill polar bear tours.
This was the third plane crash site I’ve visited, following one on the beach in Iceland and another in the mountains of Olympic National Park in Washington state. Visiting a crash site can be an emotional experience, but it’s especially nice when everyone survived, as was the case with Miss Piggy.
Would you enjoy visiting a plane crash site?