USN C-47 : The Lost Aircraft

Author Happyshopper - Last updated: 06.03.2013

I visited Iceland in September with the mrs, and while researching the trip I discovered there was an abandoned aircraft on one of the black volcanic beaches of the Southern coast near Vik. We grabbed the GPS co-ordinates and decided that would be enough to get us from the main road to the aircraft.

Roll on a couple of months and we were driving around the main ring road around Iceland. Between waterfalls we arrived at the nearest point on the road according to the GPS, pulled over somewhere sensible and began walking across the black sand in the direction of the C-47.

We walked the 2 miles rather slowly, because although the wind was bitingly cold walking over sand for long periods is hard work, and with nothing to take our bearings by save for the distant glaciers atop the mountains behind us all we could see in any direction was black sand. It turned out the GPS was a good call.

This was our first sighting of the aircraft across the dunes. However, frustratingly, there appeared to be a small river between us and the aircraft! Well crap. It turns out consulting a map alongside the GPS would have been sensible after all…

We walked up and down the water course looking for an area we could cross, stepping stones or areas that were split into 2 or 3 smaller streams we could jump. No luck. Nothing so useful. We walked back up to where the river would be easiest to ford and leaving Helen on the river bank reading I rolled up my trousers, de-socked and crossed using my tripod to steady myself. The water wasn’t deep, but it was flowing strongly – melted snow from the glacier running out to sea.

Image


A Soggy Muppet Mid-Stream

Fortunately I crossed without any comedy prat falls midstream, dried my feet and set off alone. Apparently Helen didn’t think this was worth getting wet feet for, but I disagreed. I’d been looking forward to this and a little water wasn’t going to get in the way of that!

I arrived just as a family pulled up in their practical 4×4 and soon had to compose shots with 2 children and 2 dogs running around! The 10 minutes I had to photograph the aircraft before heading back to Helen back at the stream soon became 20 while I patiently waited for them to move out of each frame.

The plane is a US Navy C-47. In 1970 the crew were caught in a sudden white-out and were forced to put the plane down. They walked to a local farmers house where they waited out the storm with the family. The C-47 remained lost in the snow until the spring, by which time it was not worth salvaging as a whole.

Anything left of value was stripped from the fuselage and the carcass was left abandoned on the beach. 30 years on and all that remains is an empty hulk.

On my way back I enjoyed washing my feet once more before starting the long mooch back to the car and lunch!

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