Just inland on the shore of Iceland’s black sand Sólheimasandur Beach the rusting hulk of a crashed military plane has been slowly falling apart since the 1970s, with a little help from enterprising locals.
The US Navy DC-3 super bus plane crash landed in 1973, and luckily everyone survived. While no one is positive exactly why the airplane went down, the suspected culprit was an empty fuel tank that the pilot may have tried to access. However, whatever the reason, the plane had to make an emergency landing on the beach on November 24th, 1973. As opposed to attempting to salvage the wreckage, it was simply left to rot in its isolated spot on an Icelandic beach.
While it is still in remarkably good condition given its 40 years out in the elements, a great deal of the fuselage has disappeared. According to one report, the entire tail section was stolen by a local farmer who sold it. However most of the cabin and the wing engines are still found on the site.
The walk out to the wreck is otherworldly - the landscape is harsh and the wind from the ocean can be intense. The plane has been stripped, but it’s still a dramatic site and fun to poke around. While it is pretty far off the beaten path, the picturesque wreckage still manages to attracts a steady stream of visitors, but they do little to take away from the decaying majesty of the remains.
Know Before You Go
You are no longer allowed to drive up to the site. It is a 2.5 mile or 4km walk from where you have to park now.
Take Highway 1 east from Reykjavik. Turn right into an unmarked gate after Jökulsá River. If you reach 219 you've gone too far. You can park near the highway and walk or drive right up if you're not concerned about driving off-road. Follow the gravel road right up to the plane. It's a desolate walk and you won't be able to see the plane until you're nearly to the ocean.