The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Aviation Museum has paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
HARS Aviation Museum will display a range of vintage aircraft from the 50s and 60s this September to commemorate the sacrifice of 60,000 Australian men and women who served in the Vietnam War, including 523 who lost their lives and more than 3,000 who were wounded.
Canberra, Connie, Caribou, Cobra, Huey, Dakota, Sabre, and Mig aircraft will be on show during September Tarmac Days on 8, 9, and 10 September at Shellharbour Airport.
The museum will feature a de Havilland DHC-4 Caribou, the last RAAF aircraft to leave South Vietnam in 1972 and affectionately known as ‘Wallaby Airlines’, as well as a UH-1B Iroquois of the type that conducted RAN training flights for pilots and crew before their deployment with the US Army 135th Helicopter Assault Company.
The HARS ‘mascot’, a Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation, will also be on parade and four Dakota/C-47 transports of the types flown in Vietnam during the war.
The HARS Connie, as it is known, flew for the United States Air Force and military units from 1955 until 1977 then went into desert mothball storage until it was found by HARS volunteers in 1991, restored then flown to Australia.
The Dakotas at HARS include A65-94 which was built in 1945 and in 1963 flew the first Australian mission of the Vietnam War, delivering cargo from RAAF Butterworth to refugees in Vietnam.
The F-111C, now owned by HARS, flew missions in Vietnam with the USAF as an F-111A before its RAAF service and the CA-27 Sabre was based in Thailand at that time, while Canberra bombers of the type displayed at HARS were used by RAAF No. 2 Squadron.
HARS Aviation Museum will also show MIG-15, MIG-17, and MIG-21 used by North Vietnam against Western forces. The aviation museum is offering interactive aircraft tours conducted by informative guides, open from 9:30am to 3:30pm daily (last tour at 2pm), as well as the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter, of the type used by the USAF in Vietnam.
A HARS Navy Heritage Flight with Huey 989 from Nowra to the museum on Saturday, 9 September is also scheduled to allow visitors to hear and see its distinctive style on arrival and departure.
Additional flying and engine run activities for HARS Aviation Museum will be finalised closer to the September Tarmac Days and subject to operational factors.