HISTORICAL SPEECH: Melbourne man and World War II veteran and POW, 95-year-old Jack Bell, speaks at the opening of the Evans Head airpark.
HISTORICAL SPEECH: Melbourne man and World War II veteran and POW, 95-year-old Jack Bell, speaks at the opening of the Evans Head airpark. Samantha Elley

Vision and memory unite as museum takes flight

A MAN with a vision and a man with a memory, along with the numerous people behind them who helped make the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Historical Aviation Association Museum possible, gathered on Sunday for the official opening.

The visionary Peter Lynch, director of Evans Head Airpark, made an emotional speech as he recounted how the idea for the airpark was born as a small group of aviation devotees inspired him.

"Aviators are idiots as we throw money into a hole in the air," he laughed.

"We went through all the requirements of the heritage listing of the aerodrome and when it was decided to ask for an F-111, we organised the documentation, which was only slightly lighter than the plane itself, and there were so many people to thank.

"I have no doubt that the Evans Head community will get involved."

The man of the day and the one to receive a standing ovation was the man who remembered what the aerodrome had been like when first established.

Melbourne man and World War II veteran and POW, 95-year-old Jack Bell, addressed the 200-plus audience as a representative of the 5000 souls who trained at Evans Head during World War II.

"I came to Evans Head on December 14, 1940, and was in Number 2 course of the airforce training scheme," he said by way of introduction.

"I saw my friends die and I had blocked it out for 45 years."

He described how, as a prisoner of war, he was rationed with one loaf of bread a week between three men.

"It was 20 per cent sawdust and the middle was a glutinous mass," he said.

"It is so necessary for (this memorial museum) to happen."

Earlier in the morning, the museum opened its doors to a constant stream of visitors who queued up just to see the cockpit of the F-111.

Many drove to the aerodrome but a lucky some flew and others glided in.

The F-111 on display at Evans Head is one of only six being put on show around the nation.

For more information: go to http://www.evansheadairpark.com.au/



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