The DC-3 of Sólheimasandur Beach

What's left of the DC-3 after 40 years of Icelandic weathering..

A United States Cargo, Douglas Super DC-3 airplane lies deserted, eerily surrounded  by the blackened, barren landscape of Sólheimasandur Beach in Iceland - untouched since it crashed more than four decades ago.

The United States Navy cargo plane is now no more than an empty shell - twisted and scavenged by over 40 punishing years of on-shore arctic winds and piercing rain.

Since its demise on Wednesday November 21st 1973, it's tail and wings are missing and nose cone are gone, some removed for memorabilia and some by mother nature, the incessant battering of black sand shards on metal. 

The exact reason for the crash is not fully understood, some sources suggest the plane simply ran out of fuel after the pilot switched to the wrong fuel tank and some say that the plane suffered severe icing and was forced to crash-land onto an iced over river. The plane was en route to an unknown airfield after departing Hofn Hornafjördur Airport, having delivered supplies to the RADAR Station in Stokksnes.

Slowly disintegrating, the plane was said to have crashed after the pilot switched to the wrong fuel tank.

Perhaps what is most amazing is that the crew of 7 all survived the impact, but rather than recover the hull, the weather-beaten remains are still standing there for the world to see.

There is some argument over the authenticity of the date of the crash - while the Aviation Safety Network originally stated in a report that the plane came down on Saturday, November 24, 1973, an Icelandic newspaper published on November 22 suggests the plane actually crashed on Wednesday November 21, 1973. Since then the Aviation Safety Network have amended their report and it can be found, in full, here

Although it is missing its tail and both wings, there are some rumours suggesting that a local farmer made some money by reclaiming the tail section. It is possible to just make out the original livery of the plane and the words "United States Navy" along the length of the fuselage just above the windows.

The interior is still accessible giving access to the cockpit - though not much remains.

The wreckage is located on Iceland’s South coast between Skógafoss waterfall and the town of Vik. Its not easy to find, the entrance to the beach road is easily missed. After driving past Skógafoss waterfall heading East on Route 1, you’ll cross a bridge with yellow lights and an access road to Sólheimajökull Glacier on the left. 

There is a road sign here that marks the glacier access road. From this point, keep driving East for about 2 kilometers and keep your eyes open for another dirt road turnoff with a gate on your right. It should be the only opening in the fence after the bridge.

Its recommended that you drive a 4x4 out to the plane wreck but this is only really necessary if snow is on the ground. A kind visitor has marked out a make-shift road which takes you as far as the dunes.

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