Built in 1987 by a devoted scuba diver, Athens Scuba Park is located in a warm spring-fed lake about 73 miles southeast of Dallas, TX. Since its inception, the lake has become a final resting place for over 30 items, including Greyhound buses, a triple-decker houseboat, various recreational toys, and even other planes.
The incredible visibility of the lake, ranging from 30-80 feet is what charmed its creator, Calvin Wilcher, into making it into a place that is enjoyed by about 15,000 people per year. Running the park personally with his wife Shannon, Calvin has seen his dream of a place for all scuba lovers become a glittering reality.
Athens Scuba Park has served as a training ground for budding divers and experienced enthusiasts alike. Winter temperatures can require the use of full wetsuits or even drysuits, but warmer seasons call for little more than a bathing suit, as the water temperature will be quite tropical, around 80F. The fact that the lake bed is made from natural white clay prevents algae from blooming, creating a crystal clear environment perfect for sightseeing or specialized courses.
The plane that was sunk for Memorial Day festivities is a Beechcraft Hawker 125-600. Measuring 60 feet in length with a 48-foot wingspan, this metal bird was submerged into the lake with 10 highly trained divers in its cabin.
The purpose of placing divers on the plane prior to its sinking was to simulate an underwater rescue mission from this type of wreckage. The big difference was, of course, the wreck was planned and carried out with diligence, rather than plunging into the body of water at high speed. The plane will now be utilized by local firefighters and police as a training facility for disaster rescues.
The park is continually making improvements and developing to accommodate even more training courses for divers, such as technical wreck diving, search and recovery, and public safety dives. There is even a cavern which extends through the bank of the lake for simulated cave diving. Night dives are permitted as well, with some wreckage featuring their own lighting, but a dive light may be a good thing to have along just in case.