Fighter World aviation museum's $15 million redevelopment plans and new manager

NEW BLOOD: Incoming Fighter World manager Bernie Nebenfuhr with outgoing manager Terry Wells at the Williamtown aviation museum.
NEW BLOOD: Incoming Fighter World manager Bernie Nebenfuhr with outgoing manager Terry Wells at the Williamtown aviation museum.

There are changes afoot for one of the Port's most popular tourist attractions with the unveiling of plans for a $15 million expansion of Fighter World aimed at bringing the 'wow' factor to visitors.

Located adjacent to the RAAF Base at Williamtown, the world-class aviation museum which is committed to preserving and displaying the heritage and history of the Air Force is about to enter a new phase in visitor experience.

The iconic institution is also undergoing a changing of the guard with manager for the past 11-plus years Terry Wells handing over the reins to another Air Force veteran and aircraft enthusiast, Bernie Nebenfuhr.

The 70-year-old Mr Wells, a longtime resident of Medowie who spent a combined 24 years in the RAAF and Reserves, will step down this week content in the knowledge that he was able to "transform" the tourist attraction into the professional, well-functioning and profitable organisation it is today.

PLANS: Architectural drawings for the new-look Fighter World aviation museum at Williamtown.

PLANS: Architectural drawings for the new-look Fighter World aviation museum at Williamtown.

It is a legacy he is proud of. "But I have not been alone ... I've been fortunate to have had good leadership from the management committee and the invaluable support of a large group of some 30 volunteers."

Mr Wells said that the past decade had seen some great advances, most notably the refurbishment of a number of exhibits and the restoration of the historic Raymond Terrace sabre jet and a replica WWI fighter 'Sopwith Camel'.

"But we have reached the limits of the current footprint and with the impending allocation of two F/A-18 Hornet jets plus a PC9, it was decided the only way forward was to expand," he said.

"So we commissioned an architect to draw up plans for another two hangars as part of a new-look Fighter World."

In acknowledging the achievements of his predecessor, Mr Nebenfuhr said that he looked forward to building on that success by forging stronger relationships with both Defence and other key stakeholders.

HAND OVER: Incoming manager Bernie Nebenfuhr, left, with outgoing manager Terry Wells at the Fighter World museum in Medowie Road, Williamtown.

HAND OVER: Incoming manager Bernie Nebenfuhr, left, with outgoing manager Terry Wells at the Fighter World museum in Medowie Road, Williamtown.

"These are very exciting times for Fighter World and it is my intention to work collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition," he said.

"One of my first priorities is to work on financing the redevelopment, which will be done in stages over some seven years.

"Stage one involves the building of a new workshop."

The new facility is expected to feature a new office, library, meeting rooms and cafe, a new entrance and sealed carpark.

Mr Nebenfuhr said that visitors would benefit through the addition of bigger, more interactive displays, and a greater level of amenity.

"I want to create that 'wow' factor for locals and visitors."

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