Boeing 737 sunken off the coast of Canada.
  • Some countries have intentionally sunken aircraft to promote diving tourism and create coral reefs. 
  • Among the sunken planes are a handful of airliners, like the Boeing 747 and the smaller Convair 240.
  • Aircraft are submerged with an OK by local authorities so all harmful pieces are removed beforehand.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Scuba diving is one of the fastest-growing recreational activities in the world, having become a multibillion-dollar industry since its development in 1967.

Thompson family scuba diving near Nabucco Island in Borneo, Indonesia

According to data from Future Market Insights, diving tourism sales have grown over 6% since 2015 and are expected to rise another 5% in the coming decade.

Max Altman scuba diving on reefs effected by climate change

Scuba enthusiasts will travel thousands of miles to experience the most unique and thrilling dives out there. One type of dive site that has become increasingly popular is sunken aircraft.

Snorkler looking at old wrecked airplane near Norman's Cay in the Bahamas.

There are several crashed airplanes that have been located and used as scuba sites, like a WWII-era Japanese Navy seaplane off the coast of Palau in Micronesia.

And a Corsair aircraft off the coast of Hawaii.

WW-II era Corsair plane off the coast of Hawaii.

However, there are a handful of large jets that have been intentionally sunk to create artificial coral reefs and give divers a unique experience exploring an aircraft underwater, including airliners and military planes.

In June 2016, one of the largest underwater planes was sunk — an Airbus A300. The aircraft was submerged by the Turkish government off the Aegean coast in Kusadasi and is 177 feet long with an impressive 144-foot wingspan.

Airbus A300 being prepared to sink.

Source: The Guardian

The huge jet took two and a half hours to sink and was done to draw more diving tourism to the country. At 75-feet deep, the A300 is easily reachable by experienced divers.

Airbus A300 being prepared to sink.

Source: The Guardian

"Our goal is to make Kusadasi a centre of diving tourism," Özlem Çerçioglu, mayor of Aydin province, said in a video. "Our goal is to protect the underwater life. And with these goals in mind, we have witnessed one of the biggest wrecks in the world."

Divers at the A300 dive site.

Source: The Guardian

The first-ever artificial plane wreck in North America is a Boeing 737-200 that was submerged off the coast of Canada by Artificial Coral Reefs. The jet was featured on Discovery's Megabuilders series.

Boeing 737 sunken off the coast of Canada.

The plane was donated by Air Canada in 2002 and was placed 90 feet deep at the bottom of the Georgia Strait off Chemainus in 2006, which is a community on Southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

Boeing 737 donated by Air Canada that was sunk off the coast of Canada.

Artificial Coral Reefs President Howard Robins told Insider that the plane did not come with landing gear, and he explained he did not want to put the belly on the seafloor, so the team had to get creative.

Boeing 737 sunk off the coast of Canada.

As a solution, Robins explained the organisation designed a unique cradle system mounted on 11-foot stands built with marine-friendly aluminum material. The system was attached to the aircraft and sunk as one unit.

Special stands and cradle system used to mount the plane.

The organization used a specially engineered contraption that it calls a "placement" that involves a barge and a crane.

"Placement" contraption specially-designed to sink the jet.

As far as environmental concerns, Robins told Insider that all coatings and parts on the vessel that were considered harmful to the ocean were stripped, and what was left was the bare metal and the overhead bins.

Boeing 737 sunken off the coast of Canada.

"This is recycling and repurposing, and those are key words," Robins told Insider. "This is not ocean-dumping or disposal, this is a thoughtful, carefully planned out game plan that requires marine stewardship, permitting, and approvals."

Boeing 737 sunken off the coast of Canada.

Two other notable Boeing aircraft were sunk in the past decade, including a mammoth Boeing 747 jumbo jet off the coast of Bahrain intended to attract divers from around the world.

Boeing 747 submerged off the coast of Bahrain.

Source: Dive Bahrain

The 747 aircraft is the largest aircraft to be used as an artificial reef and was sunk by Falcon Aircraft Recycling in 2019. The company specially modified the structure of the aircraft, notably the wings, for the project.

Falcon Aircraft Recycling specially modified the structure of the plane.

Source: Dive Bahrain

Today, it is managed by Dive Bahrain and is part of the company's "underwater theme park," which will span 100,000 meters and include ships and other structures when complete.

Boeing 747 sunken off the coast of Bahrain.

Since its debut, the 747 has attracted professional divers from over 50 countries.

Boeing 747 sunken off the coast of Bahrain.

Another impressive sunken Boeing aircraft is a 727 submerged in Mermet Springs in Illinois. The plane is a piece of Hollywood memorabilia from 1997's "US Marshals."

Mermet Springs Boeing 727 sunken plane.

In the movie, the 727 "crashed" with actor Wesley Snipes inside and rolled into the Ohio River outside Bay City, Illinois, though Snipes' character got away. After filming, Mermet Springs owner Glen Faith purchased the jet for $1 and moved it 12 miles west to its new home in 1998.

Robert Downey Jr in 1997's US Marshalls after the plane crash.

The 22-ton plane is submerged in the hazel-green waters using a barge, two cranes, two low-boys, and two police escorts. The nose sits 50-feet deep while the tail sits at just 15.

Boeing 727 sunken in Mermet Springs.

According to the company, the plane was cut in half for transport and then resewn before it was submerged. The 120-foot fuselage is hollowed out for divers who can see "charred cockpit controls, missing wings and open hatches throughout."

Boeing 727 sunken in Mermet Springs.

Small airliners have also been internationally sunk to become a reef, including a Convair 240 off the coast of Aruba. The 40-seater plane was sunk to 45 feet but has moved down to 80 feet after being disrupted by Hurricane Lenny in 1999.

Convair 240 off the coast of Aruba.

Source: Leisure Pro

The hurricane also broke the plane into two pieces, but it is still easy to navigate and can be explored by divers.

Convair 240 off the coast of Aruba.

Source: Leisure Pro

In addition to airliners, a WWII-era plane was intentionally sunk in 2009 for diving tourism. The Dakota DC-3 was a former transporter for parachutists in the Turkish air force and was donated after its retirement.

Plane wreck of a Douglas DC-3 Dakota in the Mediterranean Sea, Kas, Turkey.

Source: Diver Advisor

Today, the aircraft sits on its belly on the seafloor at a depth of 55 feet off the coast of Turkey and acts as an artificial reef and dive site.

Dakota DC3 plane wreck in Kas, Turkey.

Source: Diver Advisor

According to the company, the engines, wings, cockpit, rudder, and landing gear are all intact, and the large door used to jump provides an entrance inside.

Dakota DC3 plane wreck in Kas, Turkey.

Source: Diver Advisor

Inside the main cabin is pretty bare, but the cockpit shows the workspace of the pilot who manned the plane over 85 years ago.

Plane wreck of a Douglas DC-3 Dakota in the Mediterranean Sea, Kas, Turkey.

Source: Diver Advisor

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