Landing on Frozen Lake Led to Fatal Crash

plane crash

It is not clear whether the pilot of a plane that sank in Þingvallavatn in 2022 landed on the frozen lake intentionally or not. The landing is believed to be the cause of the accident, however. The crash resulted in the death of the pilot and all three passengers, who were all content creators or influencers. The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board published its extensive report on the incident this morning.

Over 1,000 took part in search

On February 3, 2022, a Cessna 172N aircraft went missing in Iceland after setting off on a two-hour sight-seeing trip with three passengers. Over 1,100 people took part in an intensive search operation that eventually located the plane in Þingvallavatn lake. The deceased were identified as Icelandic pilot Haraldur Diego and three passengers from the US, Netherlands, and Belgium: John Neuman (22), Tim Alings (27), and Nicola Bellavia (32). The bodies and the wreckage were eventually recovered from the lake.

Drowning was cause of death

“The cause of the accident is attributed to the intentional or unintentional landing on the frozen lake, as the ice did not support the weight of the aircraft, the aircraft broke through it and crashed into the lake,” the report summary reads. The bodies of all of the deceased were recovered at some distance from the aircraft, indicating that they had tried to swim to land. It was unlikely that they would have been able to do so, however, at the water temperature was around freezing and the distance too great. Autopsy results indicated that drowning was their cause of death.

Content creation a factor in crash

According to the report, the pilot knew the area well and had often landed on frozen lakes or flown over them at low altitude in order to facilitate photography. The board expressed their belief that “it is likely that the purpose of the flight, to create reality content, was a factor in the pilot lowering the flight over the lake.”

Investigation of the aircraft revealed that it had sufficient fuel and did not reveal anything that could explain the cause of the crash. The aircraft did not contain a “black box,” as such equipment is not standard on Cessna 172N models.

Recommendations for future prevention

The board made several recommendations to authorities in order to prevent similar accidents occurring in the future. They include implementing ADS-B transmitters in all manned aircraft flying in Icelandic airspace, as well as directing pilots to respect flight rules regarding minimum altitude and to avoid landing outside runways without ensuring that conditions are safe.

The Board’s reports are, by law, intended to shed light on the cause of accidents for the purpose of future prevention and not to apportion blame or responsibility. They are not to be used as evidence in court proceedings.

Tourists Escape from Burning Bus Near Lake Þingvallavatn

Þingvallavatn

A bus carrying 25 tourists caught fire near Lake Þingvallavatn yesterday. A firefighter told RÚV that the bus was almost completely burned by the time the fire brigade arrived.

Engulfed in flames almost immediately

Shortly before noon yesterday, a bus carrying 25 tourists came to a halt near Lake Þingvallavatn in Southwest Iceland. According to eyewitnesses, the bus burst into flames shortly afterwards. All of the passengers managed to exit the bus safely.

Eyjólfur Óli Jónsson, duty officer with the Árnes County Fire Department, told RÚV that the bus was almost completely burned by the time the fire brigade arrived. The fire department’s initial efforts were focused on extinguishing the surrounding vegetation. “It was almost impossible to put out the fire with water without polluting the soil near the highway. So as we waited for a tanker to arrive, we concentrated on the fire that had spread to the nearby vegetation. When the tanker arrived, we used foam to smother the fire on the bus.”

According to Eyjólfur, the passengers, despite being alarmed, displayed remarkable composure in the face of the incident. “When I encountered them earlier, they appeared remarkably composed. It seems they had evacuated before the fire intensified.”

Georg Aspelund Þorkelsson was sitting in a nearby car when the fire erupted. He told RÚV that it was thanks to the bus driver’s quick wits that things didn’t turn out worse.

“The passengers exited the bus and grabbed their luggage; it all happened very quickly. The driver parked in the middle of the road, which I believe was the right decision, to prevent the fire from spreading to the nearby vegetation. The bus was then engulfed in flames in a fairly short time.”

The cause of the fire remains unknown.

Preparations Made to Recover Plane Crash Wreckage

missing plane Þingvellir

The wreckage from the plane that crashed in Lake Þingvallavatn in February will be recovered Friday, Vísir reports. Recovering the aircraft is vital to the ongoing investigation into why the plane—which did not have a black box—actually crashed.

The Cessna 172N, piloted by Haraldur Diego, went missing on February 3 after setting off on a two-hour sightseeing tour with three passengers from the US, the Netherlands, and Belgium respectively. What followed was one of the most extensive search and rescue efforts in recent memory, involving 1,000 individuals at its height. The wreck was eventually located and the bodies of the pilot and his three young passengers—John Neuman, 22; Tim Alings, 27; and Nicola Bellavia, 32—were brought up by divers from a depth of 37 metres [121 feet] and deeper. Difficult conditions and freezing temperatures further complicated the process: each diver was only permitted a single attempt per day and a total of 20 minutes in the water. Plans were made to haul out the plane itself as well, but these were postponed once conditions were determined to be too dangerous for the time being. The wreckage has remained on the bottom of the lake, at a depth of 50 metres [164 ft], ever since.

See Also: All Four Bodies Recovered from Lake Pingvallavatn

Work stations were set up by the lake today, with about 60 people set to take part in recovery operations. Although the plane’s been submerged for two months, its condition doesn’t appear to have changed. Rúnar Steingrímsson, an officer with the South Iceland Police, told reporters on Thursday afternoon that the situation is completely different from what it was in February. Conditions are much more temperate and Friday’s forecast is good.

“The barges, or at lest one of them, will probably be put out today [Thursday], and then everything will get started tomorrow,” he said. “People and the rest of the equipment will arrive on Friday morning.”

There will be five divers on hand to help with the recovery process. Besides being at a significant depth, the wreckage is also “some 1,800 metres [1.1 mi] from where we’ll be putting the equipment out,” said Rúnar. “The same place we were in last time. We’re just hoping it all goes well and that this is successful. We’ve been planning this for a long time. We went last week and photographed the plane again and it was in the same condition as when we left it. So everything seems to be good in that respect.”

“There’s a dive to the plane at this depth and then it will be hoisted up under barges and brought closer to land, within some five or six metres [16-20 ft], and then they’ll dive again and take out all the electronic equipment.”

If everything goes to plan, the aircraft will have been brought ashore by Friday evening.

All Four Bodies Recovered from Lake Þingvallavatn

plane crash

The bodies of all four men who went missing after a plane crash last Thursday were recovered from lake Þingvallavatn yesterday. Rescue workers hope to recover the aircraft today.

One of the most extensive rescue efforts in recent history

Around 1,000 individuals took part in one of the most extensive rescue efforts in recent memory after a Cessna 172N aircraft went missing last Thursday. The plane had set off on a two-hour sightseeing trip carrying four people.

The Cessna was located in Þingvallavatn lake on Saturday in Southwest Iceland. The deceased were identified as Icelandic pilot Haraldur Diego and three passengers from the US, Netherlands, and Belgium: John Neuman, 22; Tim Alings, 27; and Nicola Bellavia, 32.

Given difficult conditions and freezing temperatures, divers spent much of Wednesday planning the recovery of the bodies, lying at a depth of 37 metres [121 feet] and deeper. Each diver was only permitted a single attempt per day and a total of 20 minutes in the water.

The bodies of all four men were recovered from the lake yesterday by rescue workers, aided by a remote-controlled submarine. The bodies have been transported to Reykjavík for identification by relatives, prior to an autopsy.

Recovering the aircraft crucial to the investigation

While recovering the bodies was a priority, retrieving the aircraft from the bottom of the lake is also vital to the investigation of the crash. A helicopter from the Icelandic coast guard, which will play an essential role in recovering the aircraft today, was on the scene near Þingvallavatn yesterday to survey conditions. Divers are expected to position flotation devices beneath the plane so that it can be heaved from the water.

As reported by Iceland Review earlier this week, Ragnar Guðmundsson, an investigator at the Icelandic Transport Authority, stated that the aircraft was located at a depth of 50 metres [164 feet] and appeared to be in good shape. The investigation committee hopes to determine the amount of fuel on the plane. The longer the aircraft remains underwater, however, the more likely it is that such evidence will be compromised. So far, investigators have been relying on photographs of the plane taken by unmanned submarines.

There was no “black box,” a device that records data on an aircraft, such as flight speed, elevation, and sound, aboard the plane, for such boxes are not standard equipment on the Cessna 172N model.

Divers Have Six Minutes to Retrieve Bodies from Lake

plane crash

Divers are preparing to recover four bodies from Þingvallavatn, Southwest Iceland, after their plane crashed in the lake last Thursday. Each diver may only make one attempt per day, and will only have 20 minutes underwater to recover the bodies, which lie at a depth of 37 metres [121 feet] and deeper. While recovering the bodies is a priority, authorities state that recovering the aircraft from the bottom of the lake is also crucial to the investigation of the crash.

The Cessna 172N plane went missing last Thursday after setting off on a two-hour sightseeing trip. The pilot, Icelander Haraldur Diego, was accompanied by three passengers from the US, Netherlands, and Belgium who have been named as John Neuman, 22; Tim Alings, 27; and Nicola Bellavia, 32. Around 1,000 took part in a search and rescue mission, eventually locating the plane and bodies in Þingvallavatn lake.

Recovery mission could begin tomorrow

Search and rescue crews at Þingvallavatn have prioritised recovering the bodies from the lake, but their efforts have been delayed by unfavourable weather conditions. Chief Superintendent of South Iceland Police Oddur Árnason stated that preparations for the mission are going well, and it could begin tomorrow, if conditions allow. Ensuring the divers’ safety is key: each one may not be in the water for longer than 20 minutes and may only take one dive per day. Due to this time constrain, the divers only have six minutes to do their work once they reach the bodies and are preparing by practising each movement thoroughly.

Aircraft recovery key to investigation

Ragnar Guðmundsson, investigator at the Icelandic Transport Authority, stated recovering the aircraft would be crucial for the investigation of the crash. The plane is located at a depth of 50 metres [164 feet] and appears to be in good shape. The investigation committee would like to find out the amount of fuel on the plane, but the longer it remains underwater, the more likely it is that such evidence will be compromised. So far, investigators have been relying on photographs of the plane taken by unmanned submarines.

There is no so-called “black box” on the plane, a device that records data on an aircraft, such as flight speed, elevation, and sound. Such boxes are not standard equipment on the Cessna 172N model.

Four Bodies Located in Þingvallavatn Lake

plane crash

Icelandic Coast Guard divers and special forces have located four bodies in Þingvallavatn lake, Southwest Iceland, where a plane crashed last Thursday. The Cessna 172N sightseeing plane, carrying one Icelandic pilot and three passengers, went missing last week, prompting extensive search efforts that eventually detected the plane underwater, and now the bodies. Crews are preparing to recover the bodies and the aircraft but must wait for weather conditions to improve.

Robot submarine located bodies

Crews located the bodies last night with the help of a Teledyne Gavia robot submarine. One is located at a depth of 37 metres [121 feet], and the other three are located further below the lake’s surface. The aircraft is at a depth of 48 metres [157 feet], around 800 metres [2,625 feet] from the shoreline of the lake.

Divers were prepared to recover the bodies yesterday when weather conditions began to deteriorate rapidly. A notice from police stated that the recovery efforts were delayed in order to ensure divers’ safety. The recovery mission will be carried out as soon as weather allows.

Relatives thank rescue crews

The sightseeing plane went missing after setting out on a two-hour trip on Thursday morning. Icelander Haraldur Diego, known as Volcano Pilot, was piloting the aircraft, transporting three tourists from the US, Netherlands, and Belgium. After extensive search efforts involving around 1,000 people, the plane was located on Saturday in Þingvallavatn lake. Further search efforts revealed that there were no bodies inside the aircraft, prompting the submarine search. The cause of the crash remains unknown.

The four individuals’ relatives, who have been informed that the bodies have been found, have expressed their thanks to rescue workers for their efforts over the past few days. South Iceland Police also thanked everyone who has lent a hand in the search and recovery efforts, while acknowledging that there is still much work ahead.

The four victims of the crash have been named in local newspaper Fréttablaðið. They are Icelandic pilot Haraldur Diego (49), Nicola Bellavia (32, from Belgium), John Neuman (22, from the United States), and Tim Alings (27, from the Netherlands).

Missing Plane Found

missing plane Þingvellir

Search and Rescue teams have found the sightseeing plane that went missing around midday on Thursday, Vísir reports. The craft was found in Þingvallavatn lake by a remote-controlled submarine at 11:00 pm on Friday night. There were four casualties in the crash: an experienced Icelandic pilot and three foreign tourists who were from Belgium, the Netherlands, and the US, respectively.

Nearly 1,000 people took part in the search, including around 900 Search and Rescue team members, the Coast Guard’s helicopter and special operations squadrons, police officers, members of Civil Protection, the National Police Commissioner’s special squadron, employees of ISAVÍA (the national airport and air service provider of Iceland), as well as private individuals.

In its announcement about the discovery of the plane, the Coast Guard thanked all those who had taken part in the search “for their selfless and dedicated work under demanding conditions. An investigation into the incident and next steps are in the hands of the South Iceland police.”

At time of writing, there was not yet any indication of what caused the accident, and nor was it known if there was a black box on board that could potentially shed light on the circumstances of the crash.

Poor weather conditions will make recovery difficult

As of Saturday night, South Iceland police had advised that poor weather conditions and difficult conditions on Þingvallavatn lake would made it unlikely that they would be able to extract the plane before next week. Assessments had yet to determine if it would be possible to recover the bodies of the victims from the crash site before that. The Cessna 172N was found in the southeastern part of the lake, at a considerable distance from the shoreline and a depth of 48 metres [157 ft]. This is a difficult depth for divers to work at, not to mention that the water temperature ranges between 0-1°C [32-33.8°F].

“It can freeze over very quickly and then you’re diving under ice,” explained Oddur Árnason, chief superintendent of the South Iceland police. This not only makes technical maneuvering difficult, he continued, “it’s downright dangerous for rescuers.”

Rescuers wait for a 48-hour good-weather window

The recovery will be co-managed by a special task force and the Coast Guard. In order to undertake the operation, the team will need a 48-hour window of fair weather.

“The forecast for the coming days isn’t in our favor,” said Oddur. “So we’re going to use this time to get set up and call for the necessary equipment and tools we need.”

“Our priority is to get the deceased to the surface, but how that will be accomplished remains to be seen.”

The Night Watch

During the summer solstice, construction workers pave new roads in the night. It’s late June. The skies are clear. The yellow vests are grimy. Above the banks of lake Þingvallavatn, a crew of men are laying asphalt – working on a stretch of road maybe a kilometre long. As the dump trucks come and go, […]

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Trout Spawning in Þingvellir Draws Hundreds

Brown trout Þingvellir

A crowd of 500 gathered at Þingvellir National Park last weekend to watch the brown trout’s annual spawning ritual, mbl.is reports. Every October and into early November, the lower end of Öxará river fills up with giant brown trout who swim up from the depths of the lake to spawn.

By far the largest of all Icelandic fish species, the brown trout endemic to Þingvallavatn lake can grow to 110cm (43in), though most do not grow over one metre. Biologist Jóhannes Sturlaugsson, who has studied the species for over two decades, was on site to educate visitors on the trout.

Read more: The Brown Trout of Þingvallavatn

Divers Called Out to Search For Missing Belgian Tourist

Þingvallavatn

Three divers from the Coast Guard’s special operations and bomb disposal services were called out on Thursday to continue the search for a Belgian tourist whose kayak and backpack were found in Þingvallvatn lake this week, Vísir reports. The team was joined by additional ICE-SAR divers and will continue today.

Search and rescue teams have been looking for 41-year-old Björn Debecker since last weekend when his backpack and an empty boat were found in the lake. The father of two and engineer from Leuven is known to have camped in Þingvellir last Friday night but has not been seen since. An investigation into the case has led to a smaller search area. Today, the divers are only searching in the south end of the lake. Diving in the lake is difficult, as the water is very cold and some parts of the lake are up to 80 m deep.