The low and heavy hum of these 1,200 horsepower engines travels miles. But this airplane was dead silent when it crash landed onto the black sand of Sólheimasandur beach...

Exposure: 1/400 sec, f/7.1, ISO 400

Were there survivors?

What was their mission?

How did a US Navy plane end up just outside the Arctic Circle?

About 200 kilometres out of the capital, we were down at the bottom of Iceland's Southern Region. The landscape around here was harsh. Nothing but black sand for miles, mountains far in the distance and intense winds coming from the ocean. Isolated raindrops were occasionally falling out of the dark clouds, making us nervously look up at the gray sky.

Exposure: 1/320 sec, f/6.3. ISO 250

Our alarm rang about two hours before dawn. Too early for a full breakfast, we had a quick snack and loaded ourselves into the car. With the camera gear and any extra dry clothes we had left (we got completely soaked in a rainstorm just the day prior). We rolled out of our cosy farm village and onto the island’s only “highway” (Route 1 or the Ring Road).

A few kilometers down, we pulled into a gas station for some diesel and coffee. The morning forecast kept changing, but we were committed and hopeful. The sky on the horizon started glowing orange and soon the rising sun broke through the dark clouds and poured in through our windshield. It was beautiful, and a great sign, but we couldn’t count on it; strong gusts of wind were pushing our car sideways towards the edge of the road and could have as easily thrown a cloud cover over that bright sliver of light ahead.

Eventually, we reached the spot on the map directly opposite of the supposed crash site. Being about 5 kilometers out from the coast, the plane was nowhere to be seen; we had a bit of a trek ahead of us. Across the rocky sands of the black beach. The light metallic structure that eventually appeared on the black sand in the distance looked absolutely majestic, even haunted.

Getting the shot

Her last remaining dry outfit ended up suiting the scene perfectly. The overcast sky and intense gusts of wind worked in our favour, adding to the surreal feeling of the broken-up airplane on the empty black beach. This moody and somewhat dynamic shot turned out just right, perfectly conveying the ambience of the surrounding atmosphere. The experience was more than worth the 3-hour journey out here.