Iceland: Visiting a Plane Wreck on the Beach


Plane Wreck : Becoming one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, especially among photographers and selfie snappers is the wreck of a DC-3 airplane on a remote black sand lava beach in Southern Iceland.

DC 3 Plane Crash in Iceland
DC 3 Plane Crash in Iceland by Edward M. Fielding – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/featured/plane-crash-iceland-edward-fielding.html

On Saturday Nov 24, 1973, a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach due to running out of fuel (others say it was after experiencing some severe icing).  Luckily all survived the rough landing on the south coast of Iceland.

 

Today, 44 years later only the main fuselage and part of the wings remain on the beach.  Other parts were hauled away years ago but the skeleton of the plane was left to slowly rot on the volcanic beach.

Years ago you could drive to the wreckage site via a “farm” road through the black ash but increased usage ticked off the land owner because of people constantly getting stuck, lead to the closure of the road.  For a while the land owner was charging people to park in a small parking lot and walk to the wreck.

After researching the location, I was prepared to have to skip this place thinking we would not be able to park our motor home.  But I visited in 2017 and am happy to report that the is a new spacious parking lot complete with room for large vehicles and campers as well as a bike rental place for faster travel to the site.

We visited in July.  The site itself is a long, dull walk down the relatively flat, straight road of crushed lava gravel.  It takes about 40 minutes to an hour of walking to get to the site so be prepared to spend some time.  Forty minutes to, 30 minutes waiting for your change at a shot and 40 minutes back, so bring some water, good shoes and an extra layer in case the weather turns.  The distance is approximately 4 km to the crash site.

Turnoff GPS Coordinates

63.4912391,-19.3632810

Airplane GPS Coordinates

63.459523,-19.364618

Be prepared for lots of people at the site depending on the time of day and time of year.  If you are patient, people come in waves.  If you are lucky to get there when there are only a few people, work fast and play with angles to get shots without people.  If there are a ton of people, relax and wait them out.  While we were there a ATV tour group showed up with orange jumpsuits.  They climbed all over the wreck and even stomped on it.  Makes me wonder if the days of the crashed plane are numbered with this abuse.

Many will say that the site is not worth the walk and one should spend time looking at natural sites.  As a photographer I can tell you it was certainly worthwhile visiting this unique site, I could careless about the effort need to get there.  If anything my eyes were numb with the natural beauty of the country, a bit of mysterious, man-made structure was a breath of fresh air.

Photography Prints

See more Iceland fine art photographs by Edward M. Fielding here – https://edward-fielding.pixels.com/collections/places+iceland

Extra Credit:

Did you know Justin Bieber skateboarded on top of this plane carcass?

Justin Bieber skateboarding a plane in Iceland.
Justin Bieber skateboarding a plane in Iceland.

Bieber’s music video for his surprise track “I’ll Show You” features Iceland and Bieber doing all kinds of dangerous stuff like swimming with icebergs, rolling around in moss, sitting on cliffs and jumping around wet and slippery waterfalls.