Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Retired F-111 arrives in Longreach in outback Queensland, Australia

Photo: Defence spokesman Peter Cavanagh with retired F-111 jet in Longreach.
 (ABC News: Chrissy Arthur) 

By Chrissy Arthur

Communities and schools in central-west Queensland have been giving an outback "send-off" to a retired F-111 fighter jet.

The jet arrived into Longreach in central-west Queensland last night.

The F-111 is being taken on the back of a truck from Brisbane to Darwin, where it will be displayed at an aviation museum.

The jet is one of six that have been loaned to museums across Australia.

Another six F-111 will be on display at RAAF establishments.

It was a few hours late to Longreach, after it spent extra time at schools at Mitchell and Morven in the state's southern inland.

'Turning heads'

He says the students and others along the route have been fascinated by the jet.

"This one is significant because it was bought second-hand by the air force back in the early 1980s," he said.

"This aircraft - when it was flying by United States air force - it flew the last combat mission into Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

"We've just had the support from everyone - the road workers just help us through.

"They hear us coming, they all want to look and take pictures, and just the general public on the way - it is just a head-turner."

'End of an era'

He says they have stopped at schools at Mitchell and Morven and the response has been overwhelming.

"It is the end of an era - what they were bought for is not needed any more - and that is a good thing," he said.

"But again, it is sad to see them go.

"I am happy that they are going to be out there in the public display - it's the first time it has ever been done.

"They might save one aircraft here and there, but to save 12 F-111s shows how they are held in public esteem.

"Remember, this thing served our country for 37 years."

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