The Bare Traveller

All you need to know about Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck

The Super DC-3 plane wreckage, which is one of Iceland’s numerous tourist attractions, is located on a remote plain that resembles a black sand beach. It is exceptionally picturesque and rather distinctive in the nation. 

This is the reason why many visitors, like myself, are interested in seeing the Icelandic plane crash site.

I will provide you with the most recent information in this post to assist you in visiting the Icelandic crash site.

Sûlheimasandur Plane Wreck

Although it’s not difficult to discover, getting there does require some effort. I’ll address all of your concerns, including how to get to the aircraft, photography advice, parking information, and more. Happy reading!

The U.S. Navy DC3 place accident in Sólheimasandur

All that is left of a US Navy Douglas Super DC-3 that crashed in Iceland in 1973 during a resupply flight between Hofn Airport Hornafjördur and Stokksnes is the plane wreckage. 

The crew, commanded by Captain James Wicke, the pilot, was able to flee to safety when the jet crashed in the Sólheimasandur black sand plain.

Sûlheimasandur Plane Wreck site

After the plane crashed and occupants were rescued, the US Navy retrieved every piece of the aircraft and essentially left it where it lay.

After an Icelander removed the tail, the plane was gradually stripped of practically everything that might be utilised, leaving only the fuselage and engine mounts.

For those of you who are interested in aviation, the aforementioned aircraft is a US Navy Douglas Super DC-3, which is the military designation for the civilian DC-3, also known as the C117D. The plane in question is identified as Douglas R4D-8 17171.

According to the Aviation Safety Network’s description of the incident, the engine failure was caused by severe weather, which necessitated an emergency landing. 

Other online accounts claim that the cause of the accident is either unknown or connected to pilot mistake during replacing the fuel tank, although the accident report does not seem to support these claims.

Everyone on board the plane survived the crash, but because it didn’t fare as well, it was abandoned in the black sand where it met its demise. Well, by myself, of course, excluding the visitors and picture-takers!

After appearing in several music videos and receiving celebrity visits, the plane crash gained notoriety. 

The utilisation of the wrecked aircraft by Justin Bieber in the music video for the song “I’ll Show You” in 2015, in which he is shown skateboarding on the roof, is possibly the most well-known airplane-related incident. It is during this time period that aeroplane popularity truly took off.

Given its distinctive look, it is also a particularly well-liked spot for photographers in Iceland. 

This location is one of the “must do” locations while travelling to Iceland, especially if you love photography as much as I do!

Where is the wreck of the DC-3 plane located?

This Aircraft wreck can be found on Iceland’s south coast, between Skógar and Dyrhólaey, on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur, which is about four miles south of the Icelandic ring road. 

The primary neighbouring attraction is Skogafoss Waterfall, which can be reached by car in 10 minutes and is located approximately six miles to the east.

The closest settlements are 15 miles apart or a 20-minute drive to the west in Vik. The closest major city to the east is Hvolsvöllur, which is about 40 miles away and accessible by car. 

The plane accident occurred at the GPS coordinates 63°27’32.7′′N 19°21’53.3′′W.

Is the Plane accessible?

The access to the wrecked aircraft is on private property, and in 2016 there was talk of limiting tourist access since the owners were fed up with people parking in the incorrect spots and illegally crossing the property.

However, it was decided to just restrict car access to the crash site and make it apparent that camping or overnighting there is prohibited rather than completely barring access.

You may still visit the plane as of this writing, but you can no longer drive to the accident site or spend the night there. 

You may, however, take a shuttle bus to the plane’s wreckage. More information may be found in the section below on gaining access to the plane wreckage.Instead, follow the instructions below for parking, aircraft access, and nearby hotels. 

This is private land, so please be respectful to visitors; doing so will guarantee that future visitors have access to this magnificent place.

Where to park to get closer to the DC-3 plane wreck?

A big parking lot has been built close off Route 1, Iceland’s ring road. It is roughly two miles from the wrecked plane (directions to the plane are provided in the next section). This is the sole parking lot available to guests.

Previously, you could move closer to the jet or park on the side of the road, both of which were illegal and dangerous. 

The parking area can now accommodate a significant number of guests, and there is a huge information board to assist you in planning your visit.

There is no signage on the route indicating the purpose of the vast parking park, therefore I recommend entering the coordinates into your GPS. 

This is pretty evident from the road as you travel east from Skogafoss towards Vik; however, if you are driving quickly, you may pass by without seeing it, and then you will have to locate an appropriate area to turn around!

The parking lot’s GPS coordinates are 63°29’28.4′′N 19°21’48.2′′W, and you can find them on Google Maps.

This is the greatest location to begin your tour, therefore please do not park anyplace else to reach the plane.

How to access the plane wreckage?

For a long time, you could drive to the plane if you had an appropriate four-wheel-drive car. 

The landowners, however, have limited access because to the large number of tourists and persons trying to get to the plane. So you’ll have to park in the lot through way 1 and commute to the plane via another way.

Depending on the time of year, there are three primary routes to the plane wreckage.

Walk to the plane Wreckage

It will take you between 40 minutes and an hour to walk the two miles to the plane, depending on how quickly you walk and the weather conditions at the time of your visit.

I must confess, the trek is pretty monotonous, and since there aren’t many distinguishing aspects in the scenery, it might seem like you’re going on forever without ever arriving at your destination.

However, the path is clearly designated with yellow reflector poles, so unless the weather is very severe, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it.

Walk to Sûlheimasandur Plane Wreck

But you need a phone or other gadget to go back to the parking lot or to call for assistance if something happens. Emergency services can be reached at 112.

The route is primarily a line to the right, with a little curve to the left towards the finish to descend slightly to the aircraft. 

Even though the last few hundred metres are not level, the aircraft is clearly visible from this location, barring bad weather (if the weather is bad enough, we don’t recommend continuing the trip!).

For reference, the crashed plane’s GPS coordinates are 63°27’32.7′′N 19°21’53.3′′W, while the parking lot from where you start your stroll is at 63°29’28.4′′N 19°21’48.2′′W.

Although you can do this walk in winter, please be prepared for the weather conditions in Iceland, especially in winter. 

The weather can change very quickly, and people literally died at the scene of this winter plane wreck. So be prepared if you choose to hike with appropriate clothing for harsh weather conditions.

Cycling to the Icelandic aircraft crash

You may be able to rent fat tyre bikes to get there more quickly depending on the time of year and day you arrive.

They are available for hire at the parking lot where you park, and you may operate them from a trailer. 

They aren’t accessible all year round as far as we know, but you may probably get them here in the summer when more people are travelling to the aircraft crash. However, this choice is not assured now that the shuttle is moving.

The Shuttle

From the parking lot, a shuttle is another option. This shuttle operates most days of the year, roughly every 35 minutes, and takes 15 minutes one trip.

It will save you a lot of time and a tedious trek, therefore we advise choosing it. This choice can be reserved in advance here. 

It can get busy, therefore we urge you to make reservations much in advance. Keep in mind that you must reserve the shuttle both ways; you cannot do so. 

At what time of the year you can visit the plane?

The plane is accessible throughout the year, so you may visit it whenever you choose. Before leaving, you should, however, take into account the weather and your preparedness. 

The warmest months of the year, from around May to September, are the greatest and safest seasons of the year. You have a lot more daylight hours at this time of year, and the weather is probably better.

Iceland may be visited in the winter, but you should be ready for more severe weather. In this part of Iceland, which is quite exposed, frigid winds frequently sweep the countryside.

These may transport ice, snow, and sand. Additionally, visibility may be significantly decreased, and the weather may suddenly shift.

Whereas four miles over level terrain doesn’t sound as well troublesome, in a snowstorm this terrain can be exceptionally troublesome to navigate, and it would be exceptionally simple to lose your bearings. 

You’ll have to be be completely prepared in terms of winter clothing and carry a GPS gadget or compass. Within the worst case, you’ll fair head north until you find Course 1 once more. 

I’m not attempting to prevent you from going to the plane in winter. Just be mindful of the dangers of awful climate and plan accordingly.

In the event that you choose to visit the plane amid these months, and are appropriately arranged, you may be compensated with less guests, and indeed the chance to require pictures of the plane with the Northern Lights over your head, which can include something truly extraordinary to your photographs! 

I advise going on a guided trip instead if you are worried about travelling in the cold on your own since a knowledgeable guide will secure your safety. 

Take the shuttle, which is another alternative that operates for the most of the year.

Final Thoughts: Is the Plane wreck worth it?

For adventure seekers and photography enthusiasts, visiting the plane crash in Iceland on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach may be a thrilling and exceptional experience.

A frightening and bizarre sight is the wreckage of a US Navy DC-3 airliner that has been abandoned since 1973, set against the harsh backdrop of the lonely environment.

Although it’s important to keep in mind that getting to the wreckage takes a 4-kilometer walk over the harsh terrain, this may not be an option for everyone. The difficulties are exacerbated by the remote location and erratic weather.

While the plane crash offers breathtaking vistas and historical fascination, potential visitors should think about the physical demands and make travel plans appropriately to decide if the trip is worthwhile for them.

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