The DC-3 is arguably one of the most recognisable historic aircraft around. Once a symbol of the might of the US air forces and innovative aircraft design, this particular example now lies naked on a black beach in Sólheimasandur beach, South Iceland. My first priority when I visited Iceland was to find this hulk of a shell, preserved at it’s crash site despite standing up against the arctic elements since it came to rest on 21st November 1973. In those 43 years its aluminium body has been dented and bruised. Its windows lost, its tail and wings nowhere to be seen, and its cockpit gutted, this truly is now a unique piece of art and nostalgia combined. Now, I had a massive research session before my trip in an attempt to figure out where this thing was and how I was going to get there, and it was hard work. The descriptions were limited and I was getting the feeling it was a big secret, but this things in the middle of nowhere and if someone wants to find it they should be forearmed with the necessary information so I intend to share what I can to help. First of all, you need to be on route one, part of Iceland’s Golden Circle route, on the south of the island near Vik. I was staying in Reykjavik so I got up before sunrise to drive down there in time for the sun to come up. That, in itself, was a bit of a difficult thing to do because the road, despite being the main road for the country, was buried under several inches of snow, slush and ice, which was still falling from the dark night sky. Sometimes horizontally in the Arctic wind. The mountain pass at Hvergerdi was particularly difficult but fortunately I was following a pair of snow ploughs on the descent, illuminating the pure white on either side of me with their blinding orange lights. It was so mentally draining trying to negotiate this pass in my little Hyundai rental (which, by the way, was actually the fastest car in the world) that I had to stop and grab a coffee at Bakhuis in Selfoss, along with some sustenance to keep me going on the walk to the airplane. If you’re interested, the Swiss Mocha was 8/10 on my international coffee rating, and the ham and cheese roll was a winner. The difficult part of the drive came next. Knowing where to stop was always going to be difficult. It’s 100 miles from Reykjavik to the gate to Solheimasandur beach but it’s hard to distinguish whether you’re there or not without GPS, which I didn’t have. My intention when considering packing was a proper map, which I had (and importantly, was waterproof) and a compass (which I forgot!) so I had to do some guesswork. Eyjafjallajokull was a landmark I knew I would pass, which in itself got me a little excited anyway. It had caused literally thousands of flights in European airspace to be cancelled some 5 years ago, and I would see the famous thing on my travels. It was pretty awesome, sitting there all majestic and mighty, hiding it’s terrifying power under a wonderfully bright glacier. At the foot of its southern slope I found a farm building which I wondered was something to do with its last eruption, sitting with a gargantuan chuck of rock, no a mountain in fact, resting on it’s roof. Behind it, however, was an even bigger monster of a volcano named Katla. It was at least 3 times the size yet its reputation was dwarved by Eyjafjallajokull. Being the king of the selfie, even if it is self proclaimed, I couldn’t pass it by without one!
Anyway, getting back on track, the wreck is actually on a path which is laid into the spectacular, vast black sand beach. The entrance lies unmarked from the main road, and is about 6 miles long. I took to the path on foot because my little rental was just not going to manage the terrain. In fact, my feet struggled and my legs were left sore after the little used muscles in them were brought to life as I tried to maintain my balance on the slippery, slushy sand. My walk back was cut short and I was kindly offered a ride with a couple of American brothers who had hit Iceland for a few days. Their 4×4 was very welcoming as the sleet came down on me. Where was I? Off track again! So, the way on to the path! I took some pictures to help anyone else visiting :- As you can see, the gate is set back to the south side of the road. There’s a small sign prohibiting cars and motorbikes and behind the gate the path kinks to the right. This is your way in – look out for it! When you’re in you need to follow the path marked out with the small posts.