A Philippine Air Force (PAF) Fokker F27-200 Friendship aircraft, which once served as the presidential plane of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, is now a tourist attraction in Silay City, Negros Occidental.
On Friday, Mayor Joedith Gallego officially received the retired 65-year-old tactical transport plane from Lt. Gen. Stephen Parreño, PAF commanding general, during the blessing, transfer of ownership, and unveiling of marker ceremonies held at the People’s Park in Barangay E. Lopez.
“Now, this historic aircraft is here to serve as the newest attraction in the city where people can experience and see it up close. Indeed, our city is blessed to have a piece of Philippine aviation history right in our very soil,” the mayor said.
In November 2022, the aircraft experienced an engine problem en route to Manila, which led to an emergency landing at Bacolod-Silay Airport; since then stayed on the ground and has been retired from service.
Gallego said the communication between his office and the PAF was initiated in September last year for the transfer of ownership of the aircraft brought to Barangay E. Lopez in the same month.
In his message, Parreño said the PAF presents the aircraft as “a gift to the people of Silay” as he thanked Gallego for expressing the desire to preserve the aircraft as a static display, becoming one of the village landmarks.
“Although it’s quite sad that we have to retire this historic aircraft, there is a silver lining and a happy ending to this story. While it will no longer soar through the skies, the aircraft will continue to hold the people of Silay and the visitors of the park under its mighty wings,” the PAF chief said.
“We took care of it as best as we could, and I am sure that under your care, you will do the same. It is on a bittersweet note that we close the final chapter of this marvelous aircraft. It can finally rest easy, retiring with grace and dignity as one of the finest air assets of the PAF,” he added.
The 32-passenger Fokker F27-200 Friendship plane, registered with serial number 59-0259, was built in July 1959 and delivered to the PAF in August of the same year.
Commissioned under the Presidential Airlift Wing, it had a mission to provide air transportation to the President, the Cabinet, and visiting dignitaries. It also served the PAF in various capacities, including reconnaissance missions and relief and rescue operations. (PNA)