The 24 February was an auspicious day for RAAFA – it was the day that celebrated the culmination of more than four years of preparation, planning and hard work and saw the official handover from the RAF of the Aviation Museum’s latest exhibit - a Tornado GR4.
The Tornado is an exciting and significant addition to the museum’s collection. It has enabled RAAFA to continue to tell the story of the close relationship between the RAF and RAAF, a story that began with a Spitfire, then a Lancaster and now continues today with the Tornado.
And as the RAF, RAAF and RAAFA have each celebrated their respective centennial anniversaries over the last few years, this generous gift is a reminder of the strong ties that have existed between our organisations over the last century.
Thank you, Royal Air Force, for this special gift to RAAFA and, indeed, our nation.
And thank you to the many VIPs and special guests who attended the handover ceremony, including RAAFA’s Patron, His Excellency Honourable Chris Dawson AC APM, Sir Michael Wigston KCB CBE ADC, Chief of Air Staff RAF, Mel Hupfeld AO DSC, AFA’s National Patron, and Carl Schiller OAM CSM, AFA’s National President.
Vox Pox from Tornado GR4 handover ceremony
“This new exhibit, the Tornado GR4, stands as part of the national narrative and is also a testament to the RAF and RAAF personnel who flew in or worked on it during their career.
“It is also incredible kudos for the museum and its ever-expanding collection. This new exhibit will certainly boost the profile of the museum locally, nationally and worldwide - indeed it is set to become a global attraction.”
Hon. Peter Charles Tinley, MLA Member for Willagee
“This morning’s event was everything we dreamt it would be and feels, in many ways, like the culmination of so much hard work between our two organisations.
“To have two chiefs here today who understand the shared history of the RAF and RAAF is an immense privilege, and for the significance of the gifting of the GR4 to be recognised by so many important people, including Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, is very special indeed.
“It has been an incredible journey from receiving a letter about an aircraft, to now having delivered a Tornado GR4 half way across the world. In the process, we have successfully brought our two organisations even closer, while at the same time forging precious personal lifetime friendships.”
RAF Wing Commander Erica Ferguson
“The sentiment behind the handover of the Tornado GR4 by the RAF to the RAAFA is one of generosity and a deep friendship and partnership between not just our air forces, but also our nations.
“Indeed, today has been a real thrill and a unique blend of joy, excitement and deep emotion. As an aviator, a previous chief of the Royal Australian Air Force and a proud Australian, I feel honoured to be a part of this momentous occasion.”
Mel Hupfeld AO DSC, Air Marshal (Retired)
“Today we celebrate the culmination of four years of planning, the delivery of this wonderful gift to the people of Australia, of Tornado ZULU GOLF 791. We are so grateful to have received this gift, and understand it is the only one to have been gifted outside of the UK.
“Be assured that we will look after this grand lady, and with our care she will undoubtedly out live all of us. We commit to caring for her.”
Clive Robartson, RAAFA President
“This is such a significant day for me personally given I have such a long history with the museum and having visited it regularly when I was a teenager and Air Force cadet back in the 1970s, and then having gone on to become a member of the RAAF for over nine years and to now volunteering at the museum every month.
“I know my way around the Tornado very well from a mechanical perspective; for me it’s the smell that is so evocative - the smell of hydraulic oil.
“There are three aircraft in this museum that I have worked on and I never get bored of spending time in them or showing members of the public around these incredible feats of engineering.
“This new exhibit will be a huge drawcard to the public, both in Australia and all over the world.”
Brian Willey, engineer
“This occasion is incredibly significant for the museum, it’s such a big gain for us and will no doubt increase our visitor numbers both interstate and internationally. There is nowhere else in the world that has such a significant private aviation collection.”
Bernie Oliver, Museum volunteer