Hidden Belgium: The Abandoned Boeing 707

Hidden Belgium: The Abandoned Boeing 707

Not too many people can explain the old Boeing 707 plane perched on the roof of the Expo Gowalt trade hall near the town of Wetteren.

The 1957 aircraft once belonged to the Moonie cult leader Sun Myung Moon, who personalised the interior with a mahogany bed, bathtub with gold taps and private cinema.

The plane was acquired in 1985 by the president of Benin as his personal aircraft, but grounded at Ostend airport in 1990 due to safety concerns. It remained there for five years, leaving the small African country with an enormous bill for unpaid parking charges.

The abandoned and rusting plane finally ended up in the hands of a Belgian politician and businessman who moved it to an abandoned car park near Wetteren. For a time, it was used as a training centre for aircraft cleaners.

Eventually the local council told the owner he didn’t have planning permission to park his aircraft on the site. He called the decision ‘childish and petty’ and hired two giant cranes to lift the plane onto the exhibition centre roof. It is still there.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

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