Bulgarian ex-dictator’s plane sets world record (VIDEO)

Тhe jetliner of former Bulgarian dictator Todor Zhivkov, a 48-meter (157-feet) Tupolev 154 has been turned into an underwater tourist attraction off the country’s Black Sea coast – setting the world record for the Biggest plane placed under water. The 48-meter (157-feet) Soviet-made Tupolev-154, ordered specially for the needs of Zhivkov, eastern Europe’s longest-serving communist leader, was placed at about 22 metres (24 yards) deep in the bay of Varna and 700 metres from the coast to form an artificial reef.

The Guinness world record for the Largest aircraft by weight was set by the Antonov An-225 „Mriya“ (Dream) at 600 tonnes (1.32 million lb).

Guinness World Records also recognized the smallest spy plane: the palm-sized Black Widow, developed by Aerovironment of Monrovia, California, USA, for possible reconnaissance use by ground combat troops. It has a wingspan of 15.24 cm. (6 in.), weighs just 80 g. (2.8 oz.) and carries a tiny color video camera weighing 2 g. (0.07 oz.).

The 48-meter (157-feet) body of the plane was stripped of its engines and cables before it was sunk at a depth of 20 metres (66 feet).

State television reported the Tupolev 154 will become an artificial reef aimed at attracting scuba divers.

It was submerged about 2 miles (3 kilometres) off the port city of Varna. The engines and interior were removed so as not to pollute the environment.

Sea vegetation around the 49-metre long airplane is expected to boost fish population and make it attractive to divers, especially for the ones with a nostalgic touch for the totalitarian era.

In order to protect divers, larger shipping will not be allowed within 500 metres of the site, according to captain Bogdan Bogdanov who was in charge of the operation. The Russian-made jetliner was built in 1971 and was used by Zhivkov until 1989, when the communist dictator was ousted from power.

Zhivkov ruled Bulgaria for 35 years until the fall of communist regime in 1989. He died in 1998. Four years ago a private firm bought Zhivkov’s private yacht to organise cruises with it along the Danube River.

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