Honouring crash victims

THE RAAF will pay tribute to F-111 crew members who died in a crash 20 years ago in Guyra.

The sacrifices of flight lieutenants pilot Jeremy “Jez” McNess and Mark Cairns-Cowan will be remembered at No. 1 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley this afternoon, followed by services in Guyra on Sunday.

No. 1 Squadron will hold a morning service as well as a private one at the Guyra F-111 crash site memorial later in the day.

A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet will do a fly past over the memorial service at the Guyra Shire Council administration offices at 11am on Sunday. 

It will approach from the north and fly south.

Flight Lieutenant McNess was 26 when he died.

He had wanted to be a fighter pilot since he was a boy.

His final flight was a simulated attack on the Guyra meatworks undertaken at night in bad weather.

His navigator, Flight Lieutenant Mark Cairns-Cowan, was also killed.

The Northern Daily Leader reported on September 14, 1993, “wreckage from the crash was estimated to be scattered over an area of 1km”.

Guyra residents heard a loud bang and the sky was lit up for several seconds when the aircraft exploded about 8000 feet (about 2.6km) above the impact site on the property Neeworra on Tingha Rd.

The aircraft had a chequered past in the region, with many successful training flights over the years but at least two fatal crashes – on the nights of April 2, 1987, and in1993.

The April 2 crash was at Tenterfield when an F-111 narrowly missed a house after crashing east of Mt Lindsay Rd, ploughing across the road and into a paddock, leaving a trail of flames behind it. 

Just seconds before impact iot had  swooped low over houses in Tenterfield.

 This crash killed Flight Lieutenant Mark Fallon, 24, and Flying Officer William Pike, 22. 

The aircraft was retired in December 2010 in favour of the F/A-18 Super Hornets.

The RAAF have issued a warning for those with small children and for graziers: the noise of the flyover may scare young children and some stock under the flight path could be affected.

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