A specially prepared Boeing 747 NASA aircraft landed at Keflavík Airport in May of 1983. This would probably not have made any headlines, had the plane not been carried the NASA space shuttle ‘Enterprise’ on its back.
This strange flying object passed over Reykjavík before landing at Keflavík, which at the time was, of course, still the US Navy base NASKEF. The aircraft and its cargo were in Iceland for a fuel stop on their way to Paris, to attend an air show. The ‘Enterprise’ was the first ever space shuttle and was used for test flights in the atmosphere, aided by this modified 747 jet.
The following is from an article published in the newspaper DV at the time.
Tens of thousands of people watched the American Space Shuttle ‘Enterprise’ on top of a Boeing 747 jet as it flew only 50 metres over Reykjavík airport around 20:30 last night. The peculiar conjoint pair, this gigantic colossus, was the biggest flying object most people had ever seen.”
The Icelandic astronomy blog Stjörnufræðivefurinn offers these musings about the event:
Just imagine seeing ‘Enterprise’ in the Reykjavík sky! At the time, the Icelandic public had hardly ever seen a computer and every household used a rotary phone. The white space shuttle must have looked like something from the Star Wars Trilogy (the third one, ‘Return of the Jedi’, was released in theaters around this time). Back then people knew how to dream and had every reason for having those dreams. In 1983 people thought that Mars would be visited by humans after one or two decades.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City now showcases this first ever space shuttle.
Enjoy the photos of this spectacular event, which were all found at NARA (US National Archives and Records Administration), www.nara.gov.
Lemúrinn is an Icelandic web magazine (Icelandic for the native primate of Madagascar). A winner of the 2012 Web Awards, Lemúrinn covers all things strange and interesting. Go check it out at their website.