The Mirage arriving at Scone Airport before dawn.
Saturday morning was just a taste of what’s to come at Scone airport, and there is certainly a lot more to come.
A Mirage A3-44 jetfighter made its way from Bankstown to Scone via road on Friday evening on the back of a truck escorted by police, arriving safely at its new home, a hangar at Scone Regional Airport in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The Mirage was built in 1966 and is widely regarded as one of the best fighter aircraft of its time. It has been joined by a Macchi at the Airport which currently sits in pieces.
Both will be lovingly restored by volunteers and become a part of the Warbird Visitor Attraction in a static collection. They’ve both been donated to the not-for-profit Hunter Fighter Collection who have loaned them to Muswellbrook Shire Council.
John Parker from Warbirds Online is on the board with the Hunter Fighter Collection and is a part of the curatorial team for the Scone museum, he says it’s a coup to have a plane like this.
“The Mirage is a jet fighter from the RAAF from the 60s and 70s, it’s a supersonic aircraft, it can reach speeds of about 1400 miles an hour which is pretty fast for anything!”
“It was the premier fighter for the RAAF for about 20 years and that particular one was flown by a guy from the Hunter Valley Phil Frawley who is on our board and he’s the oldest fighter pilot in the world, in the Guinness Book of Records and funnily enough he flew the Macchi that we have here as well,” said John.
“I’ve been dealing with the Mirage for about 18 months so I’m very relaxed now the aircraft is here, with the COVID issues in Sydney it has been almost impossible to move it.”
John Parker with a part of the Macchi to be restored.
“It’s quite a rare thing in Australia because most of the Mirages that served with the RAAF were sold to Pakistan and there’s not a lot of them that stayed in Australia so we are very lucky that we managed to secure this one for the museum,” he said.
“The curatorial theme so to speak, for the museum, is fighters and trainers of the RAAF with particular emphasis on how the people of the Hunter Valley participated in the military history over the years starting with the First World War and we will have a First World War aircraft actually flying here.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the Hunter Valley, it’s a great thing for development, it will certainly be an attraction to the place and I think everyone should get behind it because I think it’s a magnificent facility, nowhere else in regional Australia has a museum of this calibre, it will be really tremendous for the local population and it will be good for the state too for the economy and tourism and all of those sorts of things.”
John added that he “couldn’t be happier to be helping out with it”.
Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Maurice Collison said there was excitement everywhere at the airport on Saturday which is wonderful to see.
“I’ve always been confident this was going to work and I’m getting more and more confident as it goes on and you talk to the local businesses around the airport they’re all very confident,” he said.
“There are some beautiful warplanes here, and here, throughout Australia and throughout the world next year we will all have the opportunity to visit Scone and be so lucky to have those planes here,” said Maurice Collison.
The Scone Warbird Visitor Attraction is due to be opened in December this year and is part of the $23 million upgrade of the Scone AIrport made possible through grants from both the NSW and Australian Governments.
The Attraction will display Australian Flying Corps/RAAF aircraft, Trainers and Fighters from WWI to the present day and will include educational aviation displays, flight simulators, historic footage and offer joy flights.
Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse