If you’re researching a trip to Iceland, you’ve undoubtedly come across photos of this abandoned U.S. Navy DC-3, which crashed along a black sand beach outside of Vik in the 1970s. Everyone survived, but instead of hauling the aircraft away, the military decided to strip it of its critical components & leave the aircraft to the elements. This post will contain detailed instructions on exactly how to find Iceland’s most famous plane crash.
Despite my love of all things aviation, we actually hadn’t planned on visiting the site because you need to dedicate at least two hours to your journey. But found ourselves with a beautiful, sunny day & a little extra time as we headed back to Reykjavik, so off we went. There are many blog posts around the interwebs about how to find the plane (we found it using a little trial & error & this great post by Expert Vagabond), but most of them haven’t been updated with an important note: you can no longer drive out to the plane. It’s a 4km walk each way & when I say you are crossing barren terrain, I’m not joking: there is nothing. Here’s how to find the plane in three easy steps:
Step 1: Find the gate
If you’re using a GPS, the coordinates for the turn off of the ring road are 63.488661, -19.349133.
If you’re coming from Vik, it’s on the left just after the turn off for Mýrdalsjökulsvegur. If you reach the sign for Sólheimajökull (below) & the one lane bridge, you’ve missed it.
If you’re coming from Reykjavik, you’ll drive over the one lane bridge & past the sign for Sólheimajökull & the turn off will be on your right.You’re looking for this gate:
Drive down the dirt ramp down to the gate & you can park on either side. Be sure to give yourself enough clearance to come back up the ramp when you leave, as it’s a bit steep (we definitely burned some rubber!).
Step 2: Start walking
Once you’re past the gate, there will be an immediate fork in the road. Keep walking straight/to the left, don’t take the path to the right. It’s a bit confusing, as the path to the right has a sign with information about the plane. Don’t go this way! The day we visited, we were the only ones there & spent most of the walk second guessing ourselves as to whether we actually went the right way. If you look closely, you will see footprints in the path, which was our only assurance that we were headed the right direction.
Step 3: Keep walking
The 4km walk took us about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. I think it felt longer because you’re walking across such barren terrain. It’s not a bad idea to bring some water with you – there’s no shade or water anywhere along the way & on the day we were there, the sun got pretty warm. As the road curves to the left, you’ll see the top of the plane – a sliver of metallic silver on the horizon. Remember that you’re on private property, so stay on the well marked path. Visitors behaving badly is why you can no longer drive to the plane. It would be a real shame if access was permanently closed.
It’s worth it
Once you make it to the site, I think you’ll agree that it is absolutely worth it. The area is so deserted, you feel like you’re on another planet or in a Star Wars movie. Please be kind to the plane when visiting; it’s sad to see how many people have scratched their names into the aircraft or stolen parts of it. We had a lot of fun climbing around & exploring, but it is important to be careful, because it’s a long walk back if you’re cut or injured.