25th anniversary of F-111 disaster north-west of Guyra

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,

On September 13, it will be 25 years since a F-111C number 127 from Amberley’s 1st Squadron crashed during a routine night exercise. The crash at Guyra came about six-years after another F-111C crashed in Tenterfield in April 1987.

In Guyra, radio contact with the plane was lost at about 7pm and witnesses said the plane had caught fire in the air before exploding and falling to earth at around 7.15pm.

The fighter-bomber came down on a property 4 kilometres north-west of the town on the 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.

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 While there is no official RAAF involvement, the No. 37 Squadron (RAAF) Association has arranged an informal get together to mark the anniversary and remember the two men. 

A small ceremony will be held at the crash site at 11am, which will be attended by Mark’s father, Jim Cairns-Cowan, and some of Mark’s Air Force colleagues who flew with him prior to this tragic event.

Prior to flying F111’s Mark was 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-’80’s,” 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.”

This story Remembering the fatal night an F-111 crashed near Guyra 25 years ago first appeared on The Armidale Express.

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