Forbes' beloved "aeroplane park" may have to lose its icon to save it.
The plane needs to be removed from its monopole for assessment - and is in danger of collapse if it remains where it is now, Forbes Shire Council has been advised.
If it can be repaired, it needs a sheltered display place for the future, a report to councillors' June meeting reveals.
The Vampire Jet has been the identifying feature of Forbes' Lake-side Apex park since 1971, placed there to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Australian Airforce.
Earlier this year, a local ex-serviceman walking around Lake Forbes noticed that part of the nose cone of the plane seemed to be coming away.
He raised the alarm with the council, and the plane has been fenced off ever since.
Investigations into the work needed to repair the damage of 51 years' exposure to the elements is now imperative, the report to councillors explains.
A representative of the Historical Airplane Restoration Society (HARS) - Mike de la Hunty who has been involved in the successful restoration of two de Havilland Vampires - has examined and consulted with the council.
He's advised the plane needs to come down, the monopole is one of the factors impacting its current condition.
"The framing structure of this plane is not designed to withstand the forces of being suspended on a single monopole as it is currently," the report to councillors explains.
"If the plane can be removed successfully (there are a few planes that have been removed from stands and suffered catastrophic failure in the process), then the wings will have to be removed along with the tail sections to enable transport to a sheltered location for restoration."
Council had also been in discussions with Ben Morgan of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association who has had experience in the repair/restoration of other "Vampires" and publicly displayed aircraft.
In viewing some images of Forbes' Vampire his is also of the informal opinion that works are required as soon as possible. Council awaits formal advice from him on this matter.
The plane will, in future, need to be displayed in a covered facility, the report to council advises.
"Going forward and under advice from all relevant industry experts, the external display of this plane will have a detrimental impact to any restoration work that we would potentially undertake," the report says.
"The age and condition of these grand old aircraft needs to be considered and how Forbes will protect this asset into the future.
"It is not considered appropriate in the aviation industry, to display any plane open to the elements due to the progressive impact on the structure.
"Should the plane be restored to its current monopole - there will have to be extensive support given to the structure and further scheduled maintenance for its ongoing display.
"All this will be at a budget cost that has not been considered in previous years."
The councillors accepted the staff recommendation to receive a further report when the final report on the condition of the plane is provided and a scope of works for restoration is complete.
They also resolved to set funds aside for removal and storage of the jet towards restoration.
Forbes Shire Council has flagged $100,000 in its 2022/2023 Budget - which was on display for public comment in June - for the plane.
It is hoped that sheltering the plane will slow the deterioration so investigations can be carried out.
They won't be able to plan - or budget - until more is known.
"Removal of the plane from the park will also create note in the community," the report acknowledges.
"Many Forbes locals were involved in the installation of the plane and the town holds a special place in its heart for this icon of jet planes.
"Council are reminded that there is the real possibility that if the plane is not removed soon that the plane may collapse in situ, potentially causing injury to residents or visitors."
Meanwhile, councillors were urged to consider alternatives to acknowledge the RAFF anniversary and draw visitors to the area.
A memorial to the plan or sculpture reflecting it were staff suggestions.
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