Crashed Plane in the Middle of Nowhere, Iceland

Iceland Crashed Plane Photography – Part Six

September 2011 Iceland Ring-Road Driving Trip [ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 ]

Photos Taken with a Canon 5D Mark II / Canon 50mm 1.2 / Canon 135mm f/2

In doing my insane research before going on these Iceland trips I kept coming across these random photos of a crashed airplane somewhere down south.  I figured why not do a little more checking around and figure out where this thing is.  Turns out in 1973 a Douglas C-117 [military version of a DC-3] plane ran out of fuel in bad weather and  had to crash land on the black sand a little west of Vik.  Thankfully everyone survived, but during the attempted recovery a helicopter ended up crashing and killing some people.  Seeing how their luck was going, the Americans decided to cut their losses and abandon the whole mess in the sand.  When the local farmer went out there to check things out [I mean if there was a crashed military plane on your property you would too] he figured out that the pilots had mistakenly switched to the wrong fuel tank and actually had a second completely full load.  Being the smart man with nothing else going on, the farmer then had aviation grade fuel to run all his tractors and whatnot for a year.  He also sold off the tail to a couple who run a hotel out of a DC-3.  Go figure.

In trying to locate it I kept looking around through various forums and was really getting nowhere as most mentions were photos and never said where exactly this thing was.  I knew it was somewhere in-between the Skogafoss waterfall and the town of Vik down in the south.  I even placed it in the Solheimasondur region which is basically a giant beach that goes on for miles in every direction.  Finally I found some Googlemaps equivalent satellite images clearly showing it [see the links below] so I knew it was right off Hwy 1 before the 222 and follow the river towards the ocean.  Simple right?

Satellite Photo of the Crashed Plane in Iceland via Googlemaps

Second map showing the crashed airplane via

My friend Nick and I decided to go find this this plane once and for all and brought along with us these memorized directions [we forgot the map in the car, whoops!].  I honestly thought this thing was going to be a small stroll-  Turns out that’s not the case at all.  See the photo below?  Looks nice, calm, and serene right?  Maybe a little rib cage bones in the foreground, but we’ll overlook that and pretend they’re rocks.  This is going to be fun!

Now get comfortable looking at the wider view, because that was the view over my left shoulder.  There was at least an hour or so of blindly walking towards the unseen ocean on what seems like the moon.  Gorgeous photo, walking it in the blinding wind with no real direction and a bit of volcanic ash still in the sky…a little scary.

When we were walking we started noticing a shape that could possibly be a plane, but then again there were plenty of rocks that looked like planes from a distance so we  headed towards the one that looked the most ‘planey’.  There was no easy way across that river, so we had to take off the shoes and cross it all while getting glass shard volcanic rock in between our toes.

Finally we found the plane, totally worth it.

See the rest of our Iceland trip here [ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 ]

…or for more photo goodness see our previous June 2010 Iceland Ring-Road Driving Trip [ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 ]

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  • Stacey - I have just returned from iceland and was wanting to find out more about the airplane crash and I happened accross your website (which I wich I found before I went). We were lucky enough to find the plane thanks to an App and drove as close as we could. It was a great site to see!!
    Your photos are amazing and looks like you experianced a sunny Iceland, we had quite a lot of rain which wasn’t ideal for photos (what with no waterproof housing)

  • ian - Glad you had fun! I used a Google Map alternative to find the plane before we set off and you could actually see the plane in the satellite image. Very long walk out though!

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