1979 Mosfellsheiði air crashes

The 1979 Mosfellsheiði air crashes where two aviation accidents in Iceland that occurred about four hours apart on 18 December 1979 on a heath between Reykjavík and Þingvellir.[1] The first accident occurred when a Cessna F172M Skyhawk aircraft, with four on board, crashed into the heath. The second accident occurred when a Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopter of the 67th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron United States Air Force (USAF), from the Iceland Defense Force at Naval Air Station Keflavik, crashed with three of the injured from the previous accident, two Icelandic doctors and a five-man U.S. crew shortly after takeoff from the first crash site.[2][3]

1979 Mosfellsheiði air crashes
Date18 December 1979
SummaryAir crashes
SiteMosfellsheiði, Iceland
Total injuries11
First aircraft

A Cessna 172M, similar to the one that crashed.
TypeCessna 172
DestinationReykjavík Airport, Iceland
Second aircraft

Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant, similar to the one that crashed.
TypeSikorsky HH-3E
Operator67th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (67th ARRS), United States Air Force (USAF)
Flight originNaval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland
DestinationReykjavík, Iceland

The accidents edit

On 18 December 1979, a Cessna 172 aircraft, with registration number TF-EKK, took off from Reykjavík Airport with a French pilot, a New Zealander and two Finnish girls who worked as physiotherapists in Reykjalundur, on a sight-seeing tour around Gullfoss and Þingvellir. On its way back it crashed in heavy fog on the Mosfellsheiði heath.[4] At around 15:20, the plane was reported missing and a signal from its emergency transmitter was detected. Shortly afterwards, a search plane discovered the wreckage on the heath, a short distance south of Þingvallarvegur, where it had broken up and turned upside down.

A helicopter from the Defense Force at Keflavík Airport that happened to be on a training mission nearby went to the scene and transported the New Zealander to Reykjavík, while leaving two crew members to attend to the other occupants, whose injuries were more severe, and wait for the Icelandic SAR teams who arrived shortly later. After taking two doctors from Borgarspítalinn, fuel and offloading two of its crewmembers, the helicopter returned to the scene of the accident to pick up the Finns and the French pilot.

Shortly after the helicopter took off again from the scene of the accident, it lost power and crashed to the ground several hundred meters from the wreckage of the Cessna.[3] Rescuers, including photographer Ragnar Axelsson,[5][6] rushed to the second crash site and were confronted with the mangled remains of the helicopter and Kerosene fumes filling the air. A 19-year old SAR member, Hallgrímur Skúli Karlsson, who was one of the first at the scene managed to prevent a fire in the wreckage by cutting main power of the helicopter.[7][8] After the second accident, the injured were transported about 1-1.5 km to ambulances that took them to Borgarspítali.[9]

Aftermath edit

In the aftermath of the accidents, the lack of equipment of the SAR-units was criticised, especially its lack of two-way radios which was largely a result of the Icelandic governments tariffs that doubled its prices.[10]

References edit

  1. ^ "Kraftaverk að neistaeldurinn skyldi slokkna". Dagblaðið (in Icelandic). 19 December 1979. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  2. ^ "Sérfræðingar komnir til að rannsaka þyrluslysið". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). 22 December 1979. p. 2. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Ellefu á sjúkrahús eftir tvö flugslys". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). 19 December 1979. pp. 1, 2. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  4. ^ Kristín Sigurðardóttir (7 November 2019). "Lenti í 2 flugslysum sama daginn á Mosfellsheiði". RÚV (in Icelandic). Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  5. ^ "Ég var sannfærður um að þyrlan spryngi". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). 19 December 1979. p. 32. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  6. ^ Júlía Margrét Einarsdóttir; Sigurlaug M. Jónasdóttir (3 April 2020). "Þetta eru myndir sem ég sýni engum". RÚV (in Icelandic). Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  7. ^ "Snarræði björgunarmanna fólkinu til lífs". Vísir (in Icelandic). 19 December 1979. p. 1. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  8. ^ Þórunn Kristjánsdóttir (7 November 2019). "Lifði af tvö flugslys sama daginn". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Allt tiltækt lið kallað út á sjúkrahúsin". Morgunblaðið (in Icelandic). 19 December 1979. p. 12. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  10. ^ Jónas Kristjánsson (28 December 1979). "Átta og hálfur tími". Dagblaðið (in Icelandic). p. 10. Retrieved 6 September 2020.

Further reading edit

  • Útkall - Tifandi tímasprengja, 2019. (in Icelandic): Book by Óttar Sveinsson about the accidents.