7 Apr 2011

Skyhawks expensive for museums to display

3:43 pm on 7 April 2011

The Ashburton Aviation Museum says it has turned down the offer of a Skyhawk jet from the Ministry of Defence because it is too expensive, but Wigram Air Force Museum hopes to have two on display.

Nine of the 17 fighter jets are being offered to museums throughout the country after the Government gave up trying to sell the fleet, and the rest will probably be reduced to spare parts for sale overseas.

A spokesperson for the museum, Jim Chivers, says the Government is willing only to lend the jet and is asking for $30,000 to transport it to the museum.

He says the museum has had to turn down the offer because the extra visitors they could get for the Skyhawk wouldn't cover the cost.

Despite the expense, Wigram Air Force Museum hopes to have one single seat Skyhawk and another double seat training aircraft on display by the middle of the year.

Director Therese Angelo, says the jets are a vital part of New Zealand Airforce history and represent the service's contribution to conflicts in Southeast Asia.

But she says the planes will be very difficult to transport and will require specially trained technicians to assemble.

Ms Angelo says the cost will certainly be tens of thousands of dollars.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp was not immediately available for comment on the costs.

Mothballed jet fleet storage cost reaches $34m

The cost of storing and maintaining the 17 Skyhawks as well as the 17 Aermacchi training jets which were also taken out of service has reached $34 million.

The fighter wing of the Air force was scrapped by the Labour-led Government in 2001

Dr Mapp says there were unrealistic expectations about the value of the aircraft.

However, the Government hasn't given up hope of selling the Aermacchis. Dr Mapp told Morning Report there's been some interest in the training jets despite problems with their engines.

The Aermacchis remain in storage at Ohakea airbase.