F-111 mechanics end a marathon mission

THE final servicing of an F-111 plane was celebrated at RAAF Base Amberley yesterday, as the mechanics who had been with the program since the beginning farewelled their favourite machines.

Wayne Hughes, from Rosewood, is the only technician who worked on the first and last F-111 plane to receive Deeper Maintenance Servicing.

Mr Hughes worked on the first plane in 1974, and completed his final service on an F-111 A08-135 last month.

That plane was celebrated yesterday, as it will be the last plane serviced before the introduction of the Boeing Super Hornets.

Mr Hughes said he was sad that the F-111s were being phased out, but he never expected the aircraft would be used forever.

“Everything comes to an end,” Mr Hughes said.

“You have to be realistic; they were always going to be replaced.”

Max Chambers, a Boeing technician who also worked on the second F-111 to be serviced, said he was still amazed at how well the aircraft operated.

“They’ve lasted a long time and they’re a magnificent plane,” Mr Chambers said.

“They truly are wonderful machines.”

Neither men will work on the Super Hornets.

Deeper Maintenance Servicing will ensure the F-111 remains fully capable until the 24 Boeing Super Hornets are operational.

The service occurs after the plane racks up 525 hours of flight time.

It includes the removal of wings, engines, the undercarriage and other major components.

Mr Hughes received a Conspicuous Service Medal from the Queensland Governor in 1991 for his dedication and duty to maintaining the F-111 in support of Australia and allied forces.

John Duddy, vice president and managing director of Boeing Defence Australia said the day was extremely significant for his company and the RAAF base.

“No other aircraft in Australia’s history, and especially Queensland, has experienced such strong public support, pride and loyalty,” Mr Duddy said.

“It sounds very dramatic, but quite simply, today is a day all of us will remember, because it the day the final F-111 jet was serviced and delivered to the RAAF.”

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