Iceland: Abandoned

I made the trek out to the plane wreck to take the iconic photos: aluminium undimmed by age, bright against the black ash, silhouetted by the distant mountains, decaying under a clear blue sky.

Iceland - abandoned

There were no casualties when the aircraft came down in the Second World War: iced up, it ditched just behind the beach, and i imagine some very relieved men walked away, abandoning the wreck to the elements and, later, the ministrations of tourists and souvenir hunters. At some point, the tail section was cut off and dragged away. The wings are missing beyond the engine pods. The cockpit stripped of all but wire. The desiccated remains picked over and inspected by occasional visitors and bewildered locals, who seemingly remain perplexed by interest in the site.

Iceland - abandoned

We abandon things when they have served their purpose, when they lack use: when they become purposeless. Shape and form without purpose. Spent potential. Design without application: spent of energy, unable to rise from the ashes. When those things are too big to move, they remain where they sit: slowly decaying, eroded of intent. Buildings become abandoned when their purpose is lost, especially when something innate in their form leaves them unadaptable, unable to find a new purpose, unable to find new meaning. Cars are left to rust, steam trains abandoned in sidings, old farmhouses rotting down grassed up lanes, themselves littered with broken refrigerators.

Landscapes erode, whilst the seemingly perfect artefacts of man decay. Mountains were never intended to be perfect, engineered to millimetre perfection: they have no design tolerance, no quality control. An aircraft, by contrast, is designed for perfection: prototyped, crafted, perfected. It is build for purpose, and only actualises through it’s purpose: on the ground, it lies crippled, unable to be. Form only a shadow of it’s motion. But in the air, it soars and realises not what it can be, but truly what it is: aloft, defiant, perfect.

The landscape is ancient and weathered, and yet shows no sign of decay, whilst, in geological terms, the plane is youthful, and yet, stripped of purpose, lies pointless. It’s apathy made all the more sorrowful by the occasional tourist who climbs atop to have their photo snapped, serving simply as dramatic, iconic, listless backdrop.

Whilst i enjoy my trek out, and dutifully snap my photos, the experience is wonderfully pointless: it has significance only for it’s abstracted interest. I do not see many wrecked planes up close, and there is a certain terrible beauty in seeing that elegant form stripped of glamour and potential. We are somewhat drawn like crows to carrion to watch closely the tangled wrecks of ships and planes. They lie out of their water, out of their sky, abstracted from the elements that gave them purpose and life.

I walk away, leaving the silent aluminium to it’s decades asleep.The black ash crunches under my boots: i walk away, not relieved, as the pilot must have been, but rather bemused, both by the surreal nature of the encounter, and my own inexplicable enjoyment of it. A plane that cannot fly: an expression of dramatic futility in a landscape of overwhelming ragged beauty and scale. An unresolved dichotomy. Abandoned, and yet somehow unresolved.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Walking, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Iceland: Abandoned

  1. IRL_sean says:

    Ozymandias, plane of planes

  2. Would love to know if the plane crash landed on ice, where is the ice now?

  3. Pingback: Iceland: Transitions | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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