I have nothing but praise for the Icelandic airlines I flew on in January 2015. Icelandair (international) and Air Iceland (domestic) were on time, comfortable, offered great service and provided even greater views of the arctic north. The flights were an added bonus to a trip in the spectacular winter wonderland that is Iceland.
If you ever make your way to Akureyri in northern Iceland also check out the Icelandic Aviation Museum (founded in 1999 the museum is located near the airport). They have a great collection of aircraft from gliders through to light aircraft and a Douglas C-47A (an ex-USAAF aircraft that came to Iceland in 1943 and was purchased by Iceland Airways in 1946). The museum gives a great overview of aviation history in Iceland from the 1920’s to today.
Iceland has no military but they do operate a Coast Guard who are responsible for search and rescue duties, maritime surveillance and law enforcement in the seas around the country. The Icelandic Aviation Museum has on display an Aerospatiale SA365N Dauphin 2 helicopter and a Fokker F-27-200 Friendship that were used for rescue, medevac, fisheries protection and maritime patrol (fitted with telecommunications, navigational, rescue and medical equipment).
During World War Two British Forces occupied neutral Iceland to prevent the country falling into the hands of the Germans. Can you imagine the havoc Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor long-range patrol bombers in conjunction with Kriegsmarine U-Boats could have wreaked against Allied Atlantic convoys from bases in Iceland! The invasion codenamed Operation Fork commenced May 10th, 1940 with just 745 Royal Marines and despite the protests of the Icelandic government no fighting occurred (there were some fears the local police and German citizens may resist but this did not happen. All the local Germans were arrested though). Eventually 25,000 British and Canadian troops were deployed to the island and in 1941 they were replaced by US troops who remained until the end of the war in 1945. Iceland was used as an airbase too and the museum has wreckage from Allied aircraft and Luftwaffe long-range patrol bombers that crashed in Iceland.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) aircraft deploy to Keflavik on a regular basis (Iceland has been a NATO member since it was formed in 1949 and although they do not have a military they do provide financial contributions and civilian personnel). There is the old American base there which became the city airport but next to it remains a NATO base. I travelled past the base on a bus but did not see any aircraft operating there.
Now I wouldn’t say Iceland is an aviation buffs dream destination but there is still plenty to see around the country. Apparently there is an old DC-3 wreck on a south coast beach. I wasn’t able to get to it on this trip but that maybe something for a future journey someday.