Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor welcomed the General Dynamics F-111C jet (serial number A8-130) to its collection of vintage and high performance aircraft.
A gift from the Royal Australian Air Force, the jet is one of seven airframes being released to civilian institutions, the only one being gifted outright, and the only one being given outside Australia. Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff has made it one of his projects over the last three years to ensure that the Museum receives this famed aircraft upon its retirement.
The aircraft arrived at Hickam Air Field of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in three shipments. Members of the RAAF accompanied the fuselage on the final flight aboard a C-17 and reassembled the aircraft.
According to DeHoff, “We honor aviation history in the Pacific as part of our Museum mission, so to receive this from the Royal Australian Air Force is particularly significant. We’ll give it a final resting place that recognizes RAAF and Australia as the allies and aviation leaders they are in the Pacific region.”
From seeing combat in Vietnam to participating in the bombing raids of Operation Desert Storm, the F-111 has had a long and storied 37-year military career.
It was the world’s first fighter with variable sweep wings, which allowed the wing configuration to be changed while in flight. With wings fully extended, the F-111 could take off and land in as little as 2,000 feet; with the wings fully swept back, it could reach supersonic speeds at high or low altitudes. Capable of attacking in all weather conditions, the F-111 was also equipped with terrain-following radar, which allowed it to hug the ground at supersonic speeds.
The Royal Australian Air Force is the only country outside of the United States to operate the F-111. It was transported to Hawaii from RAAF Base Amberley, on three flights from late August through September 5, 2013.
“This gift symbolizes the close working relationship we enjoy with our American colleagues – on operations, on exercises and through airmen-to-airmen talks,” said RAAF Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown.
The F-111C was Australia’s principal strike aircraft from 1973 through 2010 and was affectionately known there as the Pig due to its ability to hunt at night with the nose of the aircraft close to the ground.
The outright gift to the Museum is a reminder of the F-111′s shared service between Australia and the United States. Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor plans a reception for Australian and American dignitaries and military representatives, to properly welcome the aircraft and honor the Royal Australian Air Force.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that accepts monetary donations for its restoration and education projects, and donations of historic aircraft and aviation memorabilia. Phone (808) 441-1000 or visit www.PacificAviationMuseum.org. The museum is located at 319 Lexington Boulevard, Historic Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818.