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Visiting Iceland’s well-known airplane wreck

Visiting Iceland's famous plane wreck


Iceland is in fact greatest recognized for being the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’, because of its many volcanoes and glaciers. There are nonetheless another fascinating and considerably uncommon sights, and one in every of these is the airplane wreck on Sólheimasandur, a black seaside on the south coast of Iceland.

It’s a few 20-minute drive from Vik however first a shout-out for The Soup Company in Vik the place we first stopped for some lunch earlier than visiting the airplane wreck.

The Soup Company is a good place to attempt Iceland’s well-known crimson sizzling lava soup. It’s their signature beef goulash soup, is filled with flavour and is available in a black lava bread bowl with yoghurt on the aspect.

But they do many different soups, too, comparable to an Icelandic lamb soup, a curried fish soup with Iceland cod and shrimps, and an Indian winter soup (with carrots, onions, lentils, coconut cream, crushed pineapple and Indian herbs and spices). If you possibly can’t resolve, merely select the tasting menu (for one) the place you get to attempt three soups in three bowls.

Whatever you select, they’re healthful and filling, they usually’ll even refill your bowl in the event you’d like extra!

Feeling suitably refreshed, we hopped again into the automotive and made our means west alongside Route 1 to see the airplane wreck.

But first, I’ll give a bit of background to the crash. It was again in 1973 {that a} US Navy transport airplane bumped into problem and crash-landed on the seaside at Sólheimasandur. The plane was flying from Hofn Hornafjördur Airport to Naval Air Station Keflavik, after delivering provides to the radar station at Stokksnes. Although reported because the wreck of a Douglas DC-3, it’s really the stays of a transformed Douglas C-117.

Different theories abound as to what triggered the crash. The Airline Safety Network states theat the airplane skilled extreme icing, ensuing within the crew being unable to keep up altitude, forcing thet airplane to land. Some say, although, that the crash occurred due to a failure by one of many pilots when switching between gasoline tanks, ensuing within the airplane working out of gasoline and being compelled to land. Apparently there was thick fog and visibility was so poor that there have been occasions when the crew was unable to see the information of the wings.

There’s even confusion on the date of the crash. Many reviews say it got here down on twenty fourth November 1973, but the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið reviews, on the twenty second November 1973, that it had crashed the day earlier than the date of publication. This date of twenty first November 1973 appears to be correct, and is backed up by the Aviation Safety Network abstract.

Whatever occurred, and on no matter date, each crew member survived with out vital accidents and the stays of the airplane had been deserted on the seaside. The airplane was subsequently stripped by the US Navy of something of worth, however the principle fuselage nonetheless lies the place the airplane crashed. It has beforehand been used as storage by the farmer whose land it had crashed on, in addition to for goal follow by native hunters (which accounts for the bullet holes you may see), however has since turn out to be a vacationer attraction in its personal proper, in all probability helped by protection it has obtained in music movies and on TV (see under).

You used to have the ability to drive all the best way to the crash web site, and even keep in a single day there, however each are now not attainable. Although it’s located on personal land, you possibly can, nonetheless, nonetheless go to and there’s a giant automotive park simply off the principle Route 1 ring highway.


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Most individuals go to on foot from right here, however there’s the choice to take the Plane Wreck Shuttle. Although individuals waited a short time for this once we had been there, it quickly materialised that it was not working. In the previous, there was the choice to rent a ‘fat bike’ however we noticed no proof of this on the time of our go to.

An indication tells guests that it takes 3-4 hours to hike each methods.  This doesn’t appear all that reasonable in my view – on an excellent day, I feel it may be accomplished a method in about half-hour if strolling briskly or inside an hour if strolling at a extra snug tempo.  That stated, maybe a beneficiant time estimate is given for good purpose because the climate can change shortly and may adversely have an effect on visibility, so it’s greatest to err on the aspect of warning. Do take care – an American vacationer died in 2017 near the airplane, as did two Chinese vacationers of their early 20s in 2020, presumably caught out by antagonistic climate situations. It’s subsequently a good suggestion to test Iceland’s climate service (vedur.is) earlier than venturing out. And don’t neglect the emergency quantity in Iceland which is 112.

The path to the airplane wreck is extra clearly outlined these days than it has been previously, helped by occasional reflective markers within the floor, hopefully decreasing the danger of individuals getting misplaced.  As walks go, it’s not a really thrilling one – you’re mainly strolling over a glacial outwash plain that appears like this.

Eventually, after about two miles of this virtually post-apocalyptic panorama, the trail observe veers to the left and the airplane comes into view within the distance.

When we arrived, there have been individuals climbing throughout it. I’ve learn that that is unlawful however am unsure if that is true. Regardless, I wouldn’t advocate it – firstly, there are elements of the airplane that didn’t look very secure; secondly, it wouldn’t be an incredible place to slide and twist an ankle (or worse nonetheless, break a leg); and thirdly, it’s simply not very thoughtful to different individuals visiting and desirous to take pictures.

Whilst the airplane wreck is sort of fascinating to see and go searching, I don’t assume you’ll want that lengthy there upon getting seen it. It’s a captivating scene in the course of nowhere, surrounded by mile upon mile of nothingness – simply black sand so far as the attention can see.

You can see contained in the dilapidated fuselage. Apparently the plane served in each Korean and Vietnamese wars earlier than being deployed to Iceland’s Keflavik Airport.

Unlike lots of Iceland’s sights, the airplane wreck differtiates itself as a result of it’s completely synthetic, offering a hanging distinction with its in any other case untouched pure surroundings.

This surreal scene – a gray fuselage set towards a black backdrop and sometimes a gray sky, seems extra like a scene from a science fiction film that it does actuality. For this purpose additionally, in fact, it represents a photographer’s paradise.

For a variety of years, the native Icelandic individuals didn’t regard the wreckage to be one thing of worldwide curiosity and fascination and even mentioned have it eliminated as a result of it was a blot on an in any other case untouched and pristine panorama.

Given its enduring reputation these days, it appears unlikely that this can ever occur. Nevertheless, I’m certain many would query the attraction in visiting this wreck given the numerous pure wonders that you would go to in Iceland as a substitute.

Perhaps it’s the otherworldly panorama that the wreck is ready in in addition to the thriller that surrounds the crash that provides to the intrigue. One factor for certain is that the publicity that the wreck has obtained by means of numerous media has actually elevated consciousness of, and curiosity in, the location. Perhaps most famously of all, Justin Bieber’s video for the music I’ll Show You options him skateboarding on the highest of it. Watch from 2 minutes 11 seconds.

The music video for the music Gerua within the Bollywood movie Diwale sees actors Shah Rukh Khan (aka SRK) and Kajol posing on prime of the airplane. Watch from 1 min 31 seconds.

And the music video for the music Let Me In, from Korean woman group Loona, additionally options the airplane. Watch from 53 seconds.

Mercurio by Emis Killa is yet one more music video to characteristic the wreck. Watch from 1m 38 seconds.

Finally, the airplane wreck additionally seems when Mikael encounters it within the Netflix sci-fi drama, Katla.

Planning a visit to Iceland your self? You can watch a video from our journey to Iceland right here. You can briefly see footage of the airplane wreck between 5m 23s and 5m 29s:

Disclosure: Our journey to Iceland was additionally sponsored by Helly Hansen.





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