Flyover by two EA-18G Growlers from No. 6 Squadron at Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley.
Flyover by two EA-18G Growlers from No. 6 Squadron at Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley. Samantha Elley

WATCH: Aviators remembered 40 years after airforce crash

WADE Noordink was only three years old when his father was killed in an airforce F-111 accident.

Flight Lieutenant Phil Noordink and Squadron Leader John Holt were on a practice bombing mission at Evans Head Range on September 29, 1977.

 

Laying wreaths at the memorial for two fallen airforce aviators.
Laying wreaths at the memorial for two fallen airforce aviators. Samantha Elley

Their F-111 A8-133 was struck by large birds on the cockpit canopy causing the aircraft to crash south of the range.

"I only know my dad through stories but I'm very proud of him," Mr Noordink said.

"You've got to remember the F-111 was the Top Gun of its day.

 

The Noordink and Holt families at the 40th anniversary of the death of the family members.
The Noordink and Holt families at the 40th anniversary of the death of the family members. Samantha Elley

"And he was one of the youngest F-111 pilots training to get his certificate."

Mr Noordink said his father chose to stay and fly the F-111 rather than getting the big salaries who could have received flying for a commercial company.

 

Memorial for both Squadron Leader John Holt and Flight Lieutenant Phil Noordink who were killed at Evans Head.
Memorial for both Squadron Leader John Holt and Flight Lieutenant Phil Noordink who were killed at Evans Head. Samantha Elley

John Holt's widow Valerie said his memory is still strong in her mind.

"I miss him to this day," she said.

"But today I have 12 grand-children, and a great-grandson and three great grand-daughters and they are all from him."

 

The Noordink family at the memorial for their beloved Phil.
The Noordink family at the memorial for their beloved Phil. Samantha Elley

The ceremony held at the Evans Head War Cemetery saw a welcome by Officer Glen Braz, who remembers as a school child in Evans Head the day the crash happened.

"News spread so quickly," he said.

"The mood in the town was very sombre.

"I am now a pilot like John and was a student on an F-111 like Phil and my mum...was the first person at the crash site."

Members of the two families spoke and wreaths were laid.

Susan Noordink, John's wife, said she would like to thank 6th squadron and the air force for always being there for her family whenever they have needed them.

Flight Lieutenant and officer in charge of the Evans Head Weapons Range, Jason Van Rysbergen said the memorial was about remembering two extremely good aviators and to continue their legacy.

"We don't forget hard work and effort," he said.

The memorial was highlighted with a flyover at Evans Head by two EA-18G Growlers from No. 6 Squadron at Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley.



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