An RAF search and rescue team was alerted after plane wreckage was seen in a remote part of North Yorkshire.
The wreckage at Ashford Gill Head, near Pateley Bridge, was spotted by an RAF pilot on Wednesday. He then called the emergency services.
The RAF search and rescue crew later discovered the wreckage was from an accident in 1969.
The Piper Cherokee crash had been recorded but the wreckage was never removed from the site.
Flt Sgt Russ Brompton, a winch man on the search and rescue aircraft, said: "The whole crew were under no doubt that this was some very old aircraft crash wreckage.
"There were no indicators this was anything very recent, there was no smoke."
The fire service and air ambulance were called to the scene but left once the wreckage was found to be old.
An Air Accidents Investigation Branch investigation into the crash concluded in 1971 that the pilot, 22-year-old Anthony Teare, was "inexperienced" and continued his flight "too long into deteriorating weather and collided with high ground".
Mr Teare had been flying from Newcastle Airport to Leeds Bradford Airport.