Plane wreck lies on black-sand beach in Iceland 40 years after crash (pictures)

US Navy plane wreck sits on black Iceland beach 40 years after crash

The wreckage of a crashed military aircraft lies on on a black sandy beach in the south of Iceland like something from a post-apocalyptic movie.

On Saturday 24 November 1973, the United States Navy airplane - a Douglas Super DC-3 - was forced to crash land on Sólheimasandur beach.

Amazingly, the crew all survived the impact, but the plane was abandoned rather than recovered, meaning the weather-beaten remains are still standing at the crash site.

US Navy plane wreck sits on black Iceland beach 40 years after crash

These incredible shots of the aircraft were taken by Eric Cheng, 38, photographer and director of aerial imaging at drone manufacturer DJI, who visited with his wife Pam.

"After planning to go to Iceland for a vacation with my wife, I started hearing rumours about a plane wreck located on a huge black sand beach," Cheng, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, said.

"My wife is a huge airplane buff, so it was pretty clear that I had to find it so I could show it to her."

The exact reason for the crash is not known, although some sources suggest the plane simply ran out of fuel after the pilot switched to the wrong fuel tank.

US Navy plane wreck sits on black Iceland beach 40 years after crash

And even the date of the crash is shrouded in mystery - while the Aviation Safety Network reports that the DC-3 went down on Saturday, 24 November, 1973, an Icelandic newspaper published on 22 November suggests the plane actually crashed on 21 November, 1973.

Despite sitting in the harsh, Icelandic environment for over 40 years, the plane's shell is very well preserved, although it is missing its tail and half of both wings, with rumours suggesting that a local farmer cashed in on the tail.

The plane is located around six miles off the main road west of Vik on Sólheimasandur Beach, meaning Cheng had to hunt down GPS coordinates online and drive to the crash site in a 4x4.

US Navy plane wreck sits on black Iceland beach 40 years after crash

"Once we left the main road, it was about 15 minutes of driving on a huge black-sand beach, which was pretty incredible in itself," the San Diego-born snapper said.

"The terrain in Iceland is otherworldly - often during the trip, I felt as if I were roaming around on alien landscapes.

"Finding the wreck would have been tricky without having GPS coordinates. There is mound of sand in front of it, which effectively hides the wreck until you are a couple hundred metres away.

US Navy plane wreck sits on black Iceland beach 40 years after crash

"I felt like I was going to reach the ocean without finding it, but once we made it to the top of the mound, the wreck was suddenly there in front of us.

"The bright fuselage of the United States Navy DC-3 plane shined brightly, nestled amongst the stark blackness of the sand all around it, like something from a zombie movie.

"You can walk right into the fuselage from the back of the plane and make your way into the cockpit.

"It was also an amazing experience because there were very few tourists around.

"We spent about half an hour wandering around and in the wreck and during that time, only two jeeps pulled up, and only for a few minutes. Most of the time it was just us and the wreck."

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