The Geysir accident
The suite at Icelandair Hotel Akureyri is dedicated to what became known as the Geysir accident and contains both photographs and reading material about the event. A fixed proportion of the income from the suite is donated to ICE-SAR, allowing guests to support this worthy cause. The common area in Icelandair Hotel Akureyri contains a display of a pair skis and two pairs of snowshoes used in the Geysir rescue mission. In addition, numerous texts about the accident and photographs from the mission, of aircraft itself and its crew can be found throughout the hotel and in the sponsor suite.
When the aircraft went missing, the entire nation was shocked. Iceland’s largest aircraft was missing and with it a crew of six and a cargo of eighteen dogs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft for four days, and the hope of someone having survived were rapidly fading.
Hundreds of people took part in the search for the aircraft, and all available planes searched over land and sea. When more than four days and nights had passed and the results of such an extensive search ended in failure, most people had started to give up hope. Just then, an indistinct distress call was heard: “Location unknown … everyone alive” (from the book Útkall: Geysir er horfinn, 2002 (Call-out: Geysir has vanished)).
The aircraft was subsequently found on 18 September at an altitude of more than 1,800 m on Vatnajökull glacier. The glacier had been shrouded with fog since the accident. Now that the fog had cleared, the aircraft could clearly be seen as could the six people moving around it. The nation’s grief instantly changed to extreme joy, flags were raised and restaurants in Reykjavík offered free coffee to all and sundry.
Experienced mountaineers drove in jeeps from Akureyri and Reykjavík on a rescue mission never before attempted in Iceland. At the same time, US soldiers had landed on the glacier in an aircraft equipped with skis but had failed to save the crew. Many of the rescuers hiked for 10 hours on the glacier, with little or no rest, under extremely difficult conditions, before reaching the crash site and successfully rescuing the crew.