'Big Jet' for Evans Head

F-111s have been flying the skies over Evans Head for the past 35 years, now the town wants their own.

Evans Head RSL president Darryl Pobje told The Northern Star yesterday the ex-servicemen’s club had ‘preliminary discussions’ with the air force to get one of the aging planes – known affectionately as the ‘pig’ for the Evans Head museum.

“It would generate a lot of interest. Ballina has the Big Prawn, Evans Head could have the Big Jet,” Mr Pobje said.

The Federal Government issued tenders last week to turn half the F-111 bomber fleet into scrap metal.

It said 13 of the bombers and their engines would be destroyed after they were retired at the end of the year.

It is unclear what will happen with the remainder of the fleet.

The tender calls for the smashing of the historic planes, despite the fact they would be popular exhibits outside RSL clubs around the country.

“A lot of people want to get up close and see the planes that used to fly over their heads,” Mr Pobje said.

A Defence department spokesperson said each plane would cost more than $1 million to ‘demilitarise’ to the requirements of the US Government which sold the planes to Canberra in the 1970s.

Recipients would also be required to pay all transport and associated costs.

“I don’t see why there should be a problem with the Government donating them. We don’t want the motors,” Mr Pobje said.

“If the Australian Government can give millions of dollars to other countries why can’t they give us a plane?”

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