Turning a huge military plane into an underwater reef

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The Lockheed C-130 Hercules airplane is known for its wide-ranging ability to ferry large amounts of cargo and passengers over long distances. In fact, it’s one of the most popular tactical airlifters for military forces worldwide. But in Aqaba, Jordan, one of these aircraft just assumed a new, somewhat unusual role: an artificial reef.

The Jordanian Air Force owns about a half dozen of the planes, and they recently took one out of commission to sink it off the coastal resort city of Aqaba. The hope is that the plane will create a pleasant substrate for marine life to flourish, thus creating not only a benefit to the environment, but also the economy, by luring tourists who might want to snorkel or dive at the unique underwater site.

The decommissioned plane is 112 ft long with a wingspan of 132 ft. When in operation it could carry more than 120 troops as well as ample cargo and weapons.

The plane was given to the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, which governs tourism activity along the coastal towns and port areas of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Before sinking it, they removed all the fuel, paint and hazardous materials from the aircraft and then dropped it off a massive barge about 1,000 ft from shore. The plane now sits at around 50 ft, making it easily accessible to recreational divers and visible to snorkelers and glass-bottom boats as well.