Aging airmen meet international top guns to assemble a tornado


Members of the ‘Old Flyers’ group from the Royal Aero Club of WA met the JARTS (Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squad) team at the Bull Creek RAAFA club on Monday July 20 after the Royal Air Force team based in UK had completed two weeks. reassembly of the Tornado fighter jet at the adjacent Aviation Heritage Museum (AHM).

The Tornado was the only aircraft in the RAF’s now superseded fleet (many still actively flying with other air forces) to be placed in a museum outside the UK. Due to the classified technology used in this type of aircraft, clearance was also required from senior US officials at the Pentagon before the aircraft could leave the UK.

The volunteer-run public museum on the RAAFA estate at Bull Creek is recognized as the best centrally located aviation museum in Australia and is honored to receive such a militarily significant warbird.

The seven-person team led by Wing Commander Erica Ferguson introduced aging airmen to their role in the recovery, dismantling and rebuilding of RAF aircraft in various parts of the world.

The best guns old and new meet at RAAFA Bull Creek. Photos and Story Daryl Binning

During the event, a raffle was held in support of the Old Flyers group. Its president Steve Rogers asked Erica to draw the winning ticket, the prize being a double pass to see the film Top Gun – Maverick. Following the presentation, the team discussed their work in more detail with the aging airmen, the flying club committee and a young student pilot starting her career at the club.

The following day, a brief ceremony was held next to the hangar, at which a new weather cover for the aircraft will be constructed. The keys to the plane were handed over to AHM volunteers. RAAFA chairman Clive Robartson accepted the keys but was surprised to find it was a huge, heavy steel key, symbolic of what was needed to take the plane apart and rebuild it in Perth .

A formal government-to-government ceremony is planned for later this year, when all the relevant senior officers from the RAF and RAAF, along with the usual group of politicians, gather at the museum to formalize the gift.

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