Reykjavik aerodrome and history



Reykjavik old tower.JPGReykjavik aerodrome (BIRK) was originally a WW2 base built by the UK Royal Air Force, but there are records of aviation activity on the airfield site as far back as 1919. Iceland’s earliest proper airport was at Akureyri in the north.

The picture above shows the old (now disused) RAF control tower. There is talk of it being refurbished, but economic times are hard in Iceland, and for the time being it is merely protected, in the sense that no-one is allowed to knock it down.

I went to Iceland this time for a conference on volcanic ash (see preceding blog). I stayed in the 1960s-architecture Icelandair Group’s Lofleidir Hotel, itself beginning to look historically significant after nearly 50 years, which overlooks the airfield. The view below is from the stairs on the third floor.

Reykjavik aerodrome from hotel.JPG

I took a trip with other conference delegates in a Flugfelag Islands Dash 8-100 to see the volcanoes that produced the atmospheric ash which closed European airspace in April.

We took off from runway 01 and slowly turned left as we climbed, heading for the south coastal area.

Aerodrome from air.JPGThe picture below shows us about to cross the approach to 13 a couple of thousand feet above it. 

Aerodrome from height.JPGReykjavik, one of the world’s increasingly rare truly downtown airports, is now only used for domestic flights and those to Greenland and the Faroes.  

Once it was Reykjavik’s only airport, but now the recently vacated USAF base at Keflavik, about 50km away from the town across a flat, bleak, windy lava field, is Iceland’s major international airport.

I like Reykjavik because it is a still staging post for general aviation deliveries across the Pond. It always has been. It has a feeling of history about it. In WW2 it staged deliveries of military aeroplanes to the allies, and was always a useful bolt hole for the big piston airliners on the more northerly Atlantic routes when they had technical problems, as they often did. Ernest K Gann territory.

Reykjavik from hotel.JPGThe city snuggles up to the airfield boundary (seen from the Loftleidir hotel). The friendly harbour area is just over the rise. Beyond the hills, amazing wilderness, empty roads across moonscapes, and lonely beauty bathed in watery sunlight. 

One Response to Reykjavik aerodrome and history

  1. David Connolly 24 September, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    Fate is the Gann/Learmount hunter eh ?. And you obviously took a volcanic steam bath “Japanese Onsen style” with a “lonely beauty bathed in watery sunlight” ?… Blonde obviously and lonely as you were taking non-posted photos. You are clearly the custodian of the romance of flight. Keep up the good work, no pun intended.