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Matt Willen Matt Willen | Wednesday 22. Julyá2009

We Catch Our Flight

(A sort of preliminary entry as I need to get some names from my notes to give credit to those who helped us out here.) Gusti woke me the next morning at about 8:30 to tell me that we fly in an hour. Getting up in a plane over the Westfjords is something I had been really wanting to do, if not for the experience of doing so then to get some photos that give some sense of the lay of the land. We drove out to the airport, met our pilot, and clambered into a small six-seater plane. To my knowledge, the plane we traveled in had no suspension system to soften landing other than big balloon tires which enable the plane to land an a variety of surfaces, which we experienced.

We had planned to fly north around the Hornstrandir and then south over Breiðafjörður to see Flatey Island and then head back north over the west coast. About an hour into the flight we got word that a woman had broken her leg and made an emergency landing on the grass runway at Fljotavík. There are around ten summer houses there, owned by families. I supposed that is something that people might find surprising, summer houses up on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. Most are pleasant cottages, many of which have been in the families for years, often since before the 1950s when the last year round residents of the northern Westfjords left the area.


As it turns out, the injured hiker was still quite a distance from the settlement at Fljotavík, so we took off and flew over the hiking party and tossed out a stick with a note that said a boat will be arriving in an hour or two. Getting injured in the north of the Westfjords is a rather serious proposition, as there are no roads in the area and access is either by plane (where possible) or by boat near the coast. A couple of hours would constitute an exceedingly fast rescue.


While the plane flight was abbreviated on account of the landing and investigation of the situation, we still had several hours flying over the north coast above the spectacular sea cliffs and fjords which were to visit over the next few days. Trying to shoot from a plane was a learning experience in itself, probably the most important part of which would be to have some strong haze filters available for the next. Gusti had the brilliant idea of bringing along black cloth to hang over the windows while shooting to minimize glare, which was very effect. All in all rather successful, and spectacular. I´ve included a small selection of photos here, from the 600 or so I shot. Gusti as about the same, and we´ll post a bunch to the landscape section of the site in the coming weeks.


We landed from the flight around 3:30 in the afternoon, which give us all of 30 minutes to get home and packed before our ride to Norðurfjörður (about four hours or so) where we caught the boat the next morning for Hornvík. More on that tomorrow.


To be sure, these entries are being done in retrospect. I got back from Iceland last Friday, but will be returning on Aug 31.

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