Guyra F-111 crash 25th anniversary

Flight Lieutenants Jeremy McNess (left) (26) from Geelong and Navigator Mark Cairns-Cowan (27) from Foster,
Flight Lieutenants Jeremy McNess (left) (26) from Geelong and Navigator Mark Cairns-Cowan (27) from Foster,

A small ceremony will be held on Thursday to remember the night a fighter-bomber exploded over Guyra, killing two men.

On September 13, it will be 25 years since F-111C number 127 from Amberley’s 1st Squadron crashed during a routine night exercise.

While there is no official RAAF involvement, No. 37 Squadron (RAAF) Association has arranged an informal get-together at the crash site at 11am.

The father and some colleagues of one victim will attend.

The crash at Guyra came about six years after another F-111C crashed in Tenterfield in April 1987.

On September 13, 1993, radio contact with the plane was lost about 7pm.

Witnesses said it caught fire in the air before exploding and falling to earth about 15 minutes later.

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The aircraft came down on a property 4km north-west of the town on Tingha Road, and wreckage was spread over a half-square-kilometre. 

The crew – flight lieutenants Jeremy McNess, 26, from Geelong, and navigator Mark Cairns-Cowan, 27, from Foster – were both killed.

Mark’s father, Jim Cairns-Cowan, and some of Mark’s Air Force colleagues who flew with him prior to this tragic event, will be at the commemoration.

Prior to flying F111s, Mark had been a navigator on C-130E Hercules aircraft based at No. 37 Squadron, RAAF Richmond, where Association president Col Coyne was than serving as the load-master.

“I know Mark’s parents from when I was in the squadron back in the mid-’80s,” Col said.

“I’ve got another mate in Toowoomba – who was another air force load-master who flew with Mark – who is driving down to Guyra to be at the commemorative service at the crash site.

“[The crashes] at Tenterfield and at Guyra were both navigators from our Hercules navigators from our 37 transport squadron.”

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