Avión de la Carolina, Quito’s Graffitied Airplane

The plane in the middle of La Carolina Park

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Spanning across a whopping 64 hectares of grassy land, La Carolina is by far the largest urban park anywhere in Quito, providing an essential break from the city’s hustle and bustle. Alongside the typical things one expects to find here is also a rather quirky sight – a defunct aircraft whose large fuselage has been painted with an eye-catching mural, known colloquially as Avión de la Carolina.

The Ecuadorian capital is endowed with a glut of green lungs for visitors to relish, and yet, it is Parque La Carolina that stands out above the rest, both in its enormity and the various attractions it boasts. Up until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the area was dominated by the local Inca tribe who built a pair of artificial lagoons for bird hunting at the same location where the park stands today.


After the lakes were dried up during the 19th century, this sliver of land was part of “Hacienda La Carolina”, a large-scale farm where cows grazed and roam freely. It was then donated by the estate’s last owner, María Augusta Urrutia Barba, to the city of Quito, which during the mid-1970’s turned the place into the expansive park it is today.


As urban sprawling extended northwards, the once secluded area, became engulfed by the ever-expanding city, making it the Ecuadorian equivalent of NYC’s Central Park. As of today, the verdant complex is home to a multitude of recreational facilities and sites, including Quito Botanical Gardens, a pond with two manmade islands and 42 different sports fields.


To the bewilderment of passersby, amid the unassuming lawns and playgrounds also lies a Douglas DC-6 aircraft, poised to take off from its unusual whereabouts. To trace its origins, one would have to travel back in time to the mid 1940’s, when it was in service with the US Airforce. Few years after its first flight, the airplane was purchased by the Ecuadorian government and served in the national air force for a couple of decades.


Upon its decommission in 1975, the aircraft was transferred to its current location in La Carolina Park, where it has been baffling curious onlookers ever since. Curiously, for a while, it also housed a stamp museum within confines. In 2019, a municipal management company opted to face-lift the plane by turning its old fuselage into a canvas for graffiti artists.


Following a design contest where a local student named Miguel Yumisaca has won, Ecuadorian artist Carlos Villavicencio was entrusted with covering the outer shell and wings with Yumisaca’s brainchild. The whimsical mural depicts a slew of Amerindian motifs as well as tidbits of Quito’s more modern facets, thus making Avión de la Carolina a popular selfie companion among the park goers.