Eerie abandoned passenger plane sits on floor of Red Sea

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(CNN) — Getting into this unpredictable shape on the ocean floor is enough to take your breath away — so it’s a good job you might as well have a breathing stitch on your back.

The venerable old Lockheed Martin L1011 Tristar aircraft, with its three engines, mounted on the wings and tail, will be a sight to behold in the air or on the ground, let alone fish and see deep below the surface of the Red Sea. Coral

An abandoned jet sunk in 2019 to create an artificial reef to encourage marine life has been photographed by American underwater photographer Brett Holzer in a series of images that capture the eerie spectacle created by this aquatic airliner.

The three-engined Lockheed Martin Tristar flew for commercial airlines in the 1980s and 90s.

The three-engined Lockheed Martin Tristar flew for commercial airlines in the 1980s and 90s.

Brett Holzer/Deep Blue Dive Center

According to Holzer, the jet has now become a haven for wreck explorers and underwater photographers.

First registered in the 1980s and abandoned in the early 2000s, after final stints with Planespotters.net, Royal Jordanian, Portugal’s TAP Air and Sweden’s Novaair, another Portuguese carrier.

After years of being parked and apparently forgotten at King Hussein International Airport on the Red Sea coast, the plane sank in Jordan’s Gulf of Aqaba with the aim of promoting dive tourism and coral growth, according to Jordanian news agency Petra.

Holzer says it lies at a depth of 15 to 28 meters (50-92 feet), with the tail of the plane at the deepest end.

“The cockpit is the shallowest part of the wreck and faces the beach at about 13 meters,” Holzer told CNN Arabic.

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Floating in the plane

Divers can explore the cockpit and cabin.

Divers can explore the cockpit and cabin.

Brett Holzer/Deep Blue Dive Center

Professional divers can enter the wreck through two doors behind the cockpit.

Inside the Tristar’s fuselage, the middle row of seats have been removed to allow better access for divers, but otherwise the jet is surprisingly well preserved.

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“Scuba divers can go behind the last two exit doors, which are at a depth of 28 meters,” says Holzer. “Or they can exit through the middle door, which is about 20 meters deep.”

The photographer says the cockpit, rows of seats on both sides, lavatory and galley are still in place, allowing divers to float around the largely intact commercial airliner.

After three years in the water, the plane’s wings now harbor countless soft corals. The fuselage is surrounded by large aquifers filled with a variety of marine life.

“It’s not uncommon to find octopuses feeding near coral heads,” says Holzer. Puffer fish can also be seen.

The real thrill, he says, is the uniqueness of exploring a passenger plane on the ocean floor.

“This adventure offers a realistic experience of diving inside a real commercial aircraft,” says Holzer.

His underwater pictures have surfaced A hit on InstagramAlong with some of his followers, he is now planning his own visit to the Gulf of Aqaba to see the wreckage.

However, Holzer stresses that this adventure may not be for everyone.

Because of its depth, he says, divers will need to be fully qualified professionals. He also recommends making reservations early, as visits require a boat.

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