New funding from the Federal Government will help restore the original aircraft of one of Australia’s leading fighter pilots from the Second World War.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, congratulated Hunter Fighter Collection Incorporated on being awarded $150,000 in funding under the Government’s Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program.
The grant will assist in the initial restoration of the Vickers Supermarine Spitfire MK1A flown during the Battle of Britain by pilot Pat Hughes, who was among the top three Australian fighter aces during the war.
During his last battle, 22-year-old Hughes bailed from his damaged Spitfire and was killed when his parachute failed to open.
Nearly 80 years later, Hughes’ recovered aircraft was acquired by vintage aircraft specialists, Pay’s Group based at Scone, which has since donated it to not-for-for-profit, Hunter Fighter Collection.
It is hoped the fully restored Spitfire will form the centrepiece of the proposed Warbird Aviation Attraction at Scone Regional Airport.
“This is an incredibly important part of Australia’s wartime aviation history and to have the restoration based here in Scone is a tremendous win for the New England and Upper Hunter,” Mr Joyce said.
“The project will honour one of our nation’s most distinguished wartime pilots and aviation heritage for current and future generations, ensuring fellow Australians have an awareness of the strong connection to our country’s military history.”
Pay’s Air Service Managing Director, Ross Pay, said the grant will assist in the rebuilding of the aircraft’s original fuselage which has been a great acquisition for the region.
“To have this aircraft end up here in Scone, it’s an amazing find really,” Mr Pay said.
The Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program is designed to preserve Australia’s wartime heritage and involve people around the nation in a wide range of projects and activities that honour the service and sacrifice of Australia’s service personnel.
Community groups and organisations are encouraged to apply for funding in the next round of Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program, particularly for projects and activities that commemorate the Vietnam War, with several significant anniversaries from this conflict falling in 2021. Applications for Batch 3 of the 2020-21 Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program close on 11 February 2021. Visit the Community Grants Hub for more information.