Residents of Madina Al Munawara Street in west Amman were awoken in the middle of the night on Friday by the sound of police patrolling the neighbourhood, only to discover that a Boeing 707 aircraft was parked on their street.
The plane, which only consisted of the fuselage without the wings, remained for hours in the residential area and "took everyone by surprise, including the police themselves", eyewitnesses said.
The initial shock abated quickly, however, and dozens of people soon surrounded the plane and started taking souvenir pictures of it.
"I thought to myself: I might not see such a thing again in my life. I started taking pictures of the plane and called my friends from all over Amman to come and join me," said Mohammad Gammaz, who lives only one block away from where the aircraft had stopped.
He noted that two police patrols arrived at the scene at around 1:00am and that they seemed to be "extremely surprised".
Nader Shaher, another eyewitness who lives in the area, said it was "obvious that they [the police] didn't have any idea how the plane ended up on the street".
Meanwhile, the Public Security Department (PSD) said the plane had been heading to Lebanon through Jordan overland before it lost its way.
"An Egyptian man explained to us that a Lebanese investor purchased the plane in order to turn it into a restaurant," PSD Spokesperson Lt. Col. Mohammad Khatib told The Jordan Times over the phone.
"The aircraft was towed from Aqaba to Amman and was heading to Lebanon through the Jaber border crossing before the driver lost his way. The plane got stuck on a narrow residential road and we had to intervene to put it on the right track," he elaborated.
"However, the aircraft was legal and didn’t violate height restrictions. This is why the police were not notified about the plane," the PSD spokesperson underlined.
According to Khatib, the man claimed that the plane had belonged to the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat before the investor had purchased it.
"It is on its way to Lebanon now," he said.
Mahmoud Diab, a reporter from Al Ahram Egyptian newspaper, told The Jordan Times that if the plane was "truly" the one that was owned by Sadat, then it was sold at an auction to a Lebanese investor sometime last year.
"No one can verify for sure if it was the one owned by the former president, as it might be attributed to him for publicity reasons," he said, adding that the Boeing 707 has stirred many controversies, some caused by rumours that Israel had purchased it.
A CNN report issued last year cited the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot as saying that Egypt Airlines had sold the plane to Israel.
The paper also claimed that the aircraft, which had taken Sadat to Israel in 1977 to pave the way for the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, had been sold to the Israeli Air Force, CNN reported.
"This claim was denied as completely baseless by Egypt Airlines at that time," Diab indicated.
The plane also carried Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak during his visit to Israel in 1997 to take part in the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's funeral, before being sold in 2005 to a private airline, according to CNN.
Yediot Ahronot said the plane had ended up in a warehouse in Thailand before Israel decided to purchase it in order to place it in a museum to commemorate the first peace treaty between Israel and a neighbouring country.
by Laila Azzeh
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