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Swinging through the air on ropes, Phuket's artificial reef

Phuket's Coral Reef Aircraft: Photo Salute

Sunday, November 23, 2008
Photo Album Salute Above

PHUKET'S coral reef squadron, the artificial reef made up of aircraft, was floating not flying today in readiness for one last sortie.

The four obsolete Thai Royal Air Force airplanes and six helicopters were transferred to a large BUS barge in readiness for their final journey.

Security guards at the Ao Makham port will be glad to see them go. Guards frequently report seeing the ghost of military personnel at night.

Some of the aircraft have fascinating histories.

Today Phuketwan visited the ghosts of flights past at 6am and again at 11am, recording Photo Albums that will be visible on dry land long after the fleet of aircraft has been sunk.

The journey to the Phuket west coast beach of Bang Tao begins tomorrow. Today the transfer of the aircraft was going smoothly.

One by one, the aircraft were swung by a giant crane onto the barge, with each aircraft already attached to large concrete blocks.

The blocks are what is hoped will hold them in position on the ocean floor, although a nosedive or two seems likely.

Teams of orange-suited workers used ropes attached to the planes to manoeuvre them into place, with the help of a large crane that sometimes had to change its position.

Once on the barge in predetermined spots, the aircraft were welded into place with temporary welds.

A large posse of media looked on, mostly from an elevated position high up on the barge.

Still to come is the more difficult part, lowering the aircraft into the water off Bang Tao beach. A painter was inside the helicopters, giving them a lick of anti-rust before immersion.

Many of the aircraft today wore sponsors' stickers. The project, delayed by the arrival of the monsoon earlier this year, is aimed at easing the pressure of numbers on Phuket's natural reefs.

Today divers, and perhaps a few ghosts, were among the interested onlookers.

Timetable for Creating a Reef

November 15 A good luck ceremony for Buddhists and Muslims is held at Ao Makham deep sea port

November 16-17 Aircraft moved by crane to the edge of the pier

November 18-22 Preparation and final balance check of the aircraft at the Phuket deep sea port

November 23 Aircraft to be lifted onto work barge then embark for artificial reef site in Bang Tao Bay.

November 24-28 The sinking of three aircraft and six helicopters to the sea bottom

November 29 The final aircraft will be sunk to mark the grand opening of the artificial reef project.

More Photos, Reading

Phuket Aircraft Take Off For Reef Landing
Photo Album On a final dawn patrol, Phuket's artificial reef aircraft were set for takeoff. Phuketwan recorded a deep blue Photo Album for posterity. Now for one last happy landing.
Phuket Aircraft Take Off For Reef Landing

Phuket Reef Aircraft Set For Deep Journey
Photo Album A trip to the bottom of the ocean off Phuket will soon be the final landing for some aircraft with remarkable histories. Their journey to beneath the sea is just beginning.
Phuket Reef Aircraft Set For Deep Journey

Phuket Sky Dive Reef Saved For Bang Tao
In a fuss about funding, Bang Tao almost loses its artificial Sky Dive Reef to Koh Racha. It was not plane sailing; Shock and disbelief at Immigration over the coming Russian invasion
Phuket Sky Dive Reef saved For Bang Tao

Phuket Sky Dive Reef ready To Fly Low
After months of anticipation, the artificial reef made up of a squadron of obsolete Air Force aircraft is to be kept on land until November 2008 when better weather should allow safety considerations to be taken into account
Phuket Sky Dive Reef ready To Fly Low

Sky Dive Reef To Be Cheered On Road To Phuket
Phuket's new Sky Dive Reef has arrived on the island in pieces. Scores of interested onlookers watched it pass, on its way to the bottom of the sea off Bang Tao
Sky Dive Reef To Be Cheered On Road To Phuket


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