Public to watch fighter jet be reassembled

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The public will be given the chance to watch the Skyhawk fighter jet being reassembled after it arrives at Classic Flyers in Mount Maunganui late next month.

The RNZAF McDonnell Douglas A4K Skyhawk, pictured, will be transported in pieces by three trucks from Blenheim's Woodbourne Air Base to Tauranga between May 21-23.

Andrew Gormlie, Classic Flyers chief executive, said RNZAF engineers would put the aircraft back together and people would be able to view the work taking place in the main hall of the museum. He said the reassembly would begin soon after the Skyhawk arrived and it would take three days.

"It's a tricky old job but the engineers will do it carefully and cleverly," Mr Gormlie said.

The Skyhawk, a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft, is numbered 6201 and Mr Gormlie is "tickled pink" to have the number one in the RNZAF 75 Squadron's fleet. "There may have been a little bit of influence," he said.

Classic Flyers quality assurance manager is Stewart Boys, a retired air commodore and for a time chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

The Skyhawk is on permanent loan to Classic Flyers and will be displayed without its engine.

"It won't fly," said Mr Gormlie. "None are allowed to under the defence ministry's moratorium. The United States won't allow them to fly other than for the purpose they were built for."

Skyhawks, which played key roles in the Vietnam and Falklands Wars, first came to New Zealand in the 1970s.

Classic Flyers is also taking delivery of an RNZAF Aermacchi jet trainer from Ohakea in early September. Fourteen of them remain in New Zealand and have been mothballed.

"Hopefully we can get this one up and flying," said Mr Gormlie.

"We are really pleased with the acquisitions and by the end of the year we will have a strong RNZAF presence."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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