Friday, July 19, 2013

Crashed Plane Site - Iceland

Yuriy had a swell idea to hike out to a crashed plane in the middle of nowhere, Iceland.  I didn't think much of it and followed his lead, not knowing this would turn into a painful all-day adventure.

There's not much information about it online, but according to this guy, a Douglas C-117 US Navy plane crash landed on the coast after running out of fuel during bad weather in 1973. When a helicopter tried to recover the remains, it too crashed and killed several people. The US decided to give up on it and abandoned the plane where it had landed.

According to a few people's reviews online, we knew it was about an hour walk from the road, headed straight toward the ocean. We determined where to pull over based on a small river that runs near the plane. Problem is, there are many streams that run from the mountains to the ocean, and we pulled over at the wrong spot. It was very flat, barren, cold, and with the lack of trees and hills, extremely windy. The entire time, we strained our eyes to see if there was a plane in the distance, and many plane shapes turned out to be only boulders. Once we reached the ocean and no plane, Yuriy pulled up the map on his phone and only then realized we were probably in the wrong area. Walking back to our car was much harder as we were now heading into the strong wind. I almost gave up on the plane, but Yuriy talked me into trying again with, "if we don't see it in 20 minutes we'll turn back" (like he always does).

Another hour later, we could see the plane but were on the wrong side of a small river. We kept thinking it would get narrower so we could jump over, but it only got wider and wider and was actually pretty deep and swift where it met the ocean. So we walked back to a calmer area, took our shoes off, and walked through the icy water barefoot. We had gone too far to let it stop us.

Alas, after 3 or 4 hours of searching, we approached the lonely plane skeleton with triumph and smiles, feeling like successful explorers. The battered plane looked ghostly against the black volcanic sand. As we approached it, it started to hail and we climbed inside to warm up. Taking my gloves off even for a few minutes to snap photos resulted in painfully numb fingers. We climbed on top of the plane and looked out at the nothingness, and felt like we understood what drives explorers and how Columbus found America.

- Julia

P.S. See the plane via satellite here and here (this one's better quality). (courtesy of Ian Grant)