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From Birdie to Fish House – Sinking a Plane for Divers

The cast-off Fokker Friendship of the local airline ALM was used as an exercise object for the Curaçao fire brigade, stowed away in a remote corner of Hato Airport for many years until the 25th of February this year, when the local dive organization, Ocean Encounters, tore it away to the utter west point of the island and put it into the water. Huge cranes made the plunge possible.

It was not really a plunge when the aluminum colossus touched the water. Eight local divers in the DDC (Thursday night Dive Club) carefully prepared the operation, attaching eleven airbags to the hull to make her dive like a lady and float, stable like a man. Two weekends before the actual plunge the divers looked for an underwater spot, suited for sinking the amputated monster. Their criteria:  no coral should be damaged, and once a dive object, the plane should be easy accessible for divers.

The next weekend anchors were placed at the final dive spot to keep the plane upright and tight, and all harmful parts and fluids were removed. During the third weekend the most spectacular part of the process took place at the steep cliffs of Watamula as photos show. Before noon the white remains of what was once a birdie in the sky triumphantly were tugged by a local fisherman’s boat in the direction of Playa Kalki, the beautiful western beach at Kura Hulanda Lodge, where she was sunk some hundreds of meters offshore.

After two months the remains of the plane still stand straight-up in the sand and fishes seem to have found a new home within the tube. The original doors are open, providing the possibility for experienced divers to swim through.

Ocean Encounters doesn’t expect the dive object to change into an abundant coral rock soon. The aluminum doesn’t draw the small organisms as easy as the iron of car wrecks does, but because of the concentration of fish the dive object is already an attraction, and a curiosity. Furthermore it’s better to have the object controlled on the ocean floor, than neglected and forgotten at Hato.

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