In 1973 a United States Navy DC-3 plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur, in the South coast of Iceland. Fortunately, everyone in that plane survived. Later it turned out that the pilot had simply switched over to the wrong fuel tank. The remains are still on the sand very close to the sea.
The site has become sort of an iconic place for photographers and can produce some stunning images in the stark, bleak gravel landscape, sometimes with snow or even with the aurora borealis in the sky.
To get to the site you drive east on Highway 1 on the south coast of Iceland towards Vik. Just east of the Skógafoss waterfall and approximately 1.5 to 2km after you see the turnoff to Road 221 on the left you will see a gate and cattle grid on the right usually with a number of cars parked there. You used to be able to drive your 4×4 over the rough gravel track from Highway 1 to the site of the plane wreck but this track has now been closed.
So you park your car at the side of Highway 1 and walk 4km over the seemingly never-ending rough track and eventually reach the plane wreck.
The landscape is almost moonlike with large expanses of rough volcanic gravel in all directions with mountains in the far distance.
Eventually you come to the wreckage of the plane which is hidden from sight by a large mound of sand until you are almost 200m from it. The wreckage basically comprises what is left of the fuselage with the tail gone and only small parts of the wings left as it lies forlornly on the black sand. When I visited there was actually a filming crew there using a drone to film the wreckage so the site is certainly becoming more popular.
The structure of the plane has suffered over the last 40 years or so being battered by the harsh Icelandic gales and snow, ice and rain. The front of the cockpit has gone and there are large looms of wiring hanging loose from the chassis.
The interior of the wreck has been totally gutted of seats and fittings leaving only a bare shell and the skeletal ribs that support the fuselage.
For photographers seeking a unique place to create an image this is one of the places you must visit and certainly contrasts with the many other beautiful landscapes, mountains, glaciers and waterfalls you experience in Iceland. It can create an apocalyptic image and with the drastic weather you can get here with rain, mist, clouds, snow and the possibility of getting the aurora in the winter months this site can have many possibilities for image making.
It is always a unique experience to visit any type of wreckage whether it be a plane wreck or shipwreck and try to see what the original structure was like and try to imagine what stories this plane had in the past with its crew and passengers. This visit was a thought provoking experience and I feel that the final images I took certainly capture the stark reality of the plane wreck and what happened here back in 1973.
Passionate Photographer …. Lost in Asia
Stuart Taylor of HighlanderImages Photography has been making images for over 25 years and can offer a diverse range of photo imaging services with a focus on Asia and a documentary/photojournalistic style. These services include planning and executing a photo shoot on location but importantly all the post-processing and image preparation needed for the specific finished media format required by the customer. Stuart’s experience and knowledge in all of these aspects makes HighlanderImages Photography a one-stop-shop for a comprehensive and professional image production service.
Stuart can be available for a variety individual assignments or projects and he specialises in areas such as photojournalism, commercial, architectural, real estate, industrial, interior design, corporate, urbex, adventure, wilderness and travel photography. Stuart can also offer some innovative and advanced techniques such as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Panoramic Photography.
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