Cessna A-37 Dragonfly
In the late 1980s Col Pay traveled through South East Asia sourcing Warbird aircraft to import to Australia. Amongst the types located and imported were Cessna A-37 Dragonfly twin jet counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft powered by 2 × General Electric J85-GE-17A turbojet, 2,850 lbf (12.7 kN) each. The aircraft was a highly desirable Warbird having excellent performance and dual controls and was fairly easy to come to grips with as a private aircraft type.
Recovery and restorationS
Nearly all of the 10 A37s were imported in 1989 from Bien Hoa AB, Saigon, Vietnam where they had been in service with the Republic of Vietnam Air Force until finally retired as spare parts were beginning to become a problem.
Col personally imported A-37A 68-7921, A-37B 68-10805, A-37B 68-10807, A-37A 69-6381, A-37B 71-0793 and A-37B 69-6439. Several other aircraft were also imported on behalf of other owners.
Most of the A37s imported by Col moved on fairly quickly, unrestored to new owners, but several were restored at Scone and then passed on in an airworthy condition.
A-37B 68-10805 was one aircraft that was sold almost immediately to David H. Lowy, Sydney NSW but remained at Scone for restoration to airworthy condition over 3 years. The aircraft was in reasonable condition when it arrived as it had seen service post-Vietnam War with the Republic of Vietnam Air Force. It however did require a complete restoration and this was accommodated by the acquisition of a large holding of spares which were imported at the same time as the aircraft including J85-GE-17A turbojet engines still sealed in cans. 68-10805 required 3 years to complete and first flew again at Scone on May 1, 1992. The aircraft has remained in Australia with David Lowy since its completion passing through his company DL Aviation and then joining Temora Aviation Museum, Temora NSW. Where it still flies and is highly enjoyed by the numerous visitors top air displays.
A second A37, A-37B 69-6439 was sold to James E. Smith, Fortine Montana USA but remained at Scone and was restored to airworthy condition with a first flight on 20th March 1996, registered as VH-IVI, whereupon it was crated and sent to its new owner in the USA. The aircraft still flies with the same owner in the USA as N437B.
Lastly A-37B 68-10807 was also restored at Scone between 1998 and 2002 and flew as VH-BPM with Gregory W. Nielsen, Toowoomba QLD until 2005 when it passed on to Sterling Aviation, Sydney NSW as VH-AZD operated by Top Gun Fighters Pty Ltd, Wollongong NSW and as of 2006 it is reported as being with Gary J. Criddle, Coila NSW.
Col retained one more A37 71-0793 as a long term restoration for his collection however this has now passed on to Temora Aviation Museum as of 2015 in an incomplete state.