Flight attendant reconnects with Iceland 60 years after emergency landing

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For mother Ellen Beam and daughter Anne Hemingway, a trip to Iceland meant more than just a visit to its top attractions and majestic landscapes – it was a return to a place where Hemingway’s life unexpectedly began.

Sixty years ago, Ellen Beam, then eight months pregnant, was working as a flight attendant on Trans World Airlines and traveling across Europe with her husband. During one particular flight on November 15, 1958, Beam’s water broke, she went into labor, and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Iceland. Beam was rushed into delivery and ended up giving birth to her daughter Anne at Keflavik Hospital (now known as The Southwest Health Center).

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Drawing on this tie, the ladies worked with Kensington Tours to plan a monumental week-long trip back to Iceland in celebration of Hemingway’s 60th birthday. The private-guided tour company arranged for a stay in one of Reyjkavik’s finest boutique hotels; organized an exclusive city tour and Northern Lights escape with an expert private guide; and provided luxury airport transfers. To make it a truly memorable experience, the tour company went above and beyond by locating the hospital where Hemingway was born and organizing a meet-and-greet with the hospital staff who worked there back in 1958. The event was even covered by Iceland’s biggest newspaper Morgunblaðið.

Beam, now 89, reminisced of the unexpected delivery telling Morgunblaðið that “it was as if God just meant for us to [land] here.”

“We felt like we had to come,” she added. “We have a remarkable story that we thought we had to share [and experience together].”

“We are honored to play a part in Ellen and Anne’s story,” said Alison Hickey, President of Kensington Tours.