Having loving work admired is perfect pay-back
THERE'S something special about seeing the men responsible for restoring a significant aircraft watching proudly as people admire it in wonder.
A magnificent Canberra Bomber has gone on display at the RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre to mark the 48th anniversary of 2 Squadron and their Canberra Bombers' arrival in Vietnam.
On Sunday, the Heritage Centre's restoration staff displayed the internal refurbishment of Canberra Bomber A84-242.
The display also featured cockpit instrumentation, fittings and furnishings about to be installed into the aircraft as it is returned to its Vietnam operations configuration.
Members of the 2 Squadron Association were on hand to talk about the Canberra's restoration.
One of them, Lloyd Brown said it was a labour of love for him and fellow members of the association to bring the bomber back to its former glory after it was rescued in 2007.
"When the squadron disbanded, the aircraft was given to the firefighters to use for fire and rescue training," Mr Brown said.
"It sat over in the fire training pad for years but luckily for us it was never fired. It only ever had foam in it. Foam is not the biggest friend of aircraft; it does a lot of damage."
"But it was crap. It took them seven years to do the restoration. It was dedicated here in August 2012."
But the aircraft was basically intact when it was rescued and the external refurbishment was more or less getting rid of the rust and painting it.
"Externally and internally they had to redo all the corrosion so it wouldn't fall to pieces. The idea is for it still to be here in 50 years' time," he said.
"There wasn't much left of it in the guts of it; inside in the crew stations. That's why they basically sprayed it black inside and closed the door."
There was really bad corrosion in the cockpit.
The outside was done in Vietnam-era livery. When the opportunity came up to get the guts of another aeroplane, the restorers decided to do the interior as well to make it a complete Vietnam-era aircraft.
"When we got the gear from this other aircraft in Wagga, we thought let's do it properly," Mr Brown said.
"The internal refurbishment has started. Inside is basically ready to start putting all this assembled gear in.
"We're still looking for a few bits and the odd bit we have to sort out what was in Vietnam, what wasn't in Vietnam. Because it was 40 years ago and my memory's shot."
On a table next to the aircraft, neatly arranged, is the pilot's instrument panel, the navigator's instrument panel, the bombsight computer, the yolk, nitrogen system, the bombing system, navigator's radio compass and intercom, inverter controls and radio boxes.
"It's like every project here - it's worth doing," Mr Brown said with a smile. "It's great for the old grey matter. Not so good for the back, crawling around in there like I did 40 years ago."
But while it certainly was a worthwhile project and he was glad to be part of it, Mr Brown said there should be an easier way to put old planes on display.
"In future, we should do what we did with the Caribou - on its last flight it taxis in there and it stays in there," he said.
"The same with the F-111s - taxi them off the flight line, into the hangar and here's your new home."