An Icelandic Aviation Journey

As originally posted on my aviation blog Aces Flying High:

I have nothing but praise for the Icelandic airlines I flew on in January 2015. Icelandair (international) and Air Iceland (domestic) were on time, comfortable, offered great service and provided even greater views of the arctic north. The flights were an added bonus to a trip in the spectacular winter wonderland that is Iceland.

Aboard an Icelandair Boeing 757 over Alberta, Canada
Aboard an Icelandair Boeing 757 over Alberta, Canada
Air Iceland Fokker 50 at Reykjavik Domestic Airport and the flight to Akureyri in the north
Air Iceland Fokker 50 at Reykjavik Domestic Airport and the flight to Akureyri in the north
Icelandair flight from Keflavik over Greenland and Nunavut, Canada
Icelandair flight from Keflavik over Greenland and Nunavut, Canada

If you ever make your way to Akureyri in northern Iceland also check out the Icelandic Aviation Museum (founded in 1999 the museum is located near the airport). They have a great collection of aircraft from gliders through to light aircraft and a Douglas C-47A (an ex-USAAF aircraft that came to Iceland in 1943 and was purchased by Iceland Airways in 1946). The museum gives a great overview of aviation history in Iceland from the 1920’s to today.

Icelandic Aviation Museum Akureyri Iceland Douglas DC-6A
Icelandic Aviation – The Douglas DC-6A was broken up for scrap in 1983 but the nose section was saved
Douglas C-47A & Boeing 727 Icelandic Aviation Museum
Icelandair Douglas C-47A & Boeing 727
Inside the Icelandair C-47A Icelandic Aviation Museum Akureyri
Inside the Icelandair C-47A
Inside the Icelandair Boeing 727
Inside the Icelandair Boeing 727
Klemm L-25eVIIR that was brought to Iceland by a German gliding expedition in 1936 primarily to scout for landing field sites and remained in the country after they left
Klemm L-25eVIIR that was brought to Iceland by a German gliding expedition in 1936 primarily to scout for landing field sites and remained in the country after they left. Following engine issues in 1940 a replacement engine could not be sought because of the war. It did not fly again until restored in 1978. The Klemm last flew in 1982
1937 Waco ZKS-7, a kit plane, Evans VP-1 Volksplane (1981), Dornier Do-28 & Pitts Special
1937 Waco ZKS-7, a kit plane, Evans VP-1 Volksplane (1981), Dornier Do-28 & Pitts Special
Icelandic aviation history museum akureyri
Icelandic aviation history
Icelandic aviation history museum akureyri
Iceland enters the jet age
A "Black Box" flight recorder Icelandic Aviation Museum
A “Black Box” flight recorder
Pitts Special Icelandic Aviation Museum
Pitts Special
de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver floatplane Icelandic Aviation Museum
de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver floatplane
Piper Cub, Rolls Royce RB-211 engine, experimental jet flap propulsion aircraft, DHC-2 Beaver and Schweizer TG-3A (1943) glider
Piper Cub, Rolls Royce RB-211 engine, experimental jet flap propulsion aircraft, DHC-2 Beaver and Schweizer TG-3A (1943) glider
Cessna 140, Vans RV-6, Powered hang glider, Flight Attendant uniforms and radar equipment
Cessna 140, Vans RV-6, Powered hang glider, Flight Attendant uniforms and radar equipment used from 1979-2012
Rhönlerche II glider, Erco Ercoupe 415C, Schweizer TG-3A (1943) glider, Stinson SR-7B Reliant and Beechcraft C-45H
Rhönlerche II glider, Erco Ercoupe 415C, Schweizer TG-3A (1943) glider, Stinson SR-7B Reliant and Beechcraft C-45H

Iceland has no military but they do operate a Coast Guard who are responsible for search and rescue duties, maritime surveillance and law enforcement in the seas around the country. The Icelandic Aviation Museum has on display an Aerospatiale SA365N Dauphin 2 helicopter and a Fokker F-27-200 Friendship that were used for rescue, medevac, fisheries protection and maritime patrol (fitted with telecommunications, navigational, rescue and medical equipment).

Icelandic Coast Guard Aerospatiale SA365N Dauphin Icelandic Aviation Museum
Icelandic Coast Guard Aerospatiale SA365N Dauphin 2 (1985) which was damaged and grounded in a rescue training mission in 1987 (this may explain why there are no blades in the tail rotor)
Icelandic Coast Guard Fokker F-27-200 Friendship (1976) Icelandic Aviation Museum
Icelandic Coast Guard Fokker F-27-200 Friendship (1976)
Icelandic Coast Guard Fokker F-27-200 Friendship (1976)
Inside the Fokker F-27

During World War Two British Forces occupied neutral Iceland to prevent the country falling into the hands of the Germans. Can you imagine the havoc Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor long-range patrol bombers in conjunction with Kriegsmarine U-Boats could have wreaked against Allied Atlantic convoys from bases in Iceland! The invasion codenamed Operation Fork commenced May 10th, 1940 with just 745 Royal Marines and despite the protests of the Icelandic government no fighting occurred (there were some fears the local police and German citizens may resist but this did not happen. All the local Germans were arrested though). Eventually 25,000 British and Canadian troops were deployed to the island and in 1941 they were replaced by US troops who remained until the end of the war in 1945. Iceland was used as an airbase too and the museum has wreckage from Allied aircraft and Luftwaffe long-range patrol bombers that crashed in Iceland.

WW2 aircraft wreckage Icelandic Aviation Museum Akureyri
WW2 aircraft wreckage including a USAAF Lockheed P-38 Lightning machine gun and Bell P-39 Airacobra parts (1942); RAF Fairey Battle parts and guns; an oxygen tank from a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju-88A (made an emergency landing in the sea in 1945) and a piston from a Luftwaffe Heinkel He-111 that crashed in 1941 whilst on a long-range patrol from Norway

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) aircraft deploy to Keflavik on a regular basis (Iceland has been a NATO member since it was formed in 1949 and although they do not have a military they do provide financial contributions and civilian personnel). There is the old American base there which became the city airport but next to it remains a NATO base. I travelled past the base on a bus but did not see any aircraft operating there.

Old US Airbase and current NATO base. Parts of the old US airbase at Keflavik are used as housing for Icelanders.
Old US Airbase and current NATO base. Parts of the old US airbase at Keflavik are used as housing for Icelanders.

Now I wouldn’t say Iceland is an aviation buffs dream destination but there is still plenty to see around the country. Apparently there is an old DC-3 wreck on a south coast beach. I wasn’t able to get to it on this trip but that maybe something for a future journey someday.

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