A retired F-111 fighter aircraft took its place in the Bellman Hangar of Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome yesterday after years of planning and months of preparation.
The plane was brought by road from RAAF Base Amberley with a police escort and is the last of six to be sent to museums all over Australia for display.
It will be assembled over the next week in the recently restored Bellman Hangar at the state heritage-listed aerodrome.
The F-111 is scheduled to be unveiled on 25 August, with Dr Brendan Nelson of the Australian War Memorial officiating.
It is 50 years since Australia decided to acquire the ‘swing-wing’ bomber reconnaissance aircraft. It was modified to meet Australian requirements including long-range flight.
The planes were retired from active service in 2010 and have been replaced in the interim by the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which is a multi-role fighter aircraft.
Part of the cost of restoration of the Bellman Hangar has been paid for by Richmond Valley Council and the remainder by Mr Peter Lynch of the Evans Head Airpark, who is planning to purchase the aerodrome from the council.
Evans Head Living Museum president Dr Richard Gates said, ‘it was good to see Council come to the party to pay for some of the cost of restoration of the Bellman Hangar as Council has made millions of dollars out of the sale of aerodrome land over the years with very little put back into preservation of the heritage of the site’.
‘The Bellman Hangar is an Evans Head landmark, a representative of the 17 hangars that were once there,’ he said.
‘Part of the Plan of Management for the Aerodrome, agreed to by the Heritage Council in 2005, clearly identified the hangar for restoration. It has been a long time in coming.
‘We know that the World War II veterans who trained and worked at Evans Head are delighted that the hangar has been restored in recognition of their fallen comrades.’
The Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee Inc was formed in 2000 to preserve the historic aspects of the airfield and to protect it as a working airfield.