The Wacky Warbos – not a circus troupe – but husband and wife team, Ian and Connie Warburton, who are competing in the Outback Air Race to raise much-needed funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). Ian, who has had 53 years in the Royal Australian Air Force, and Connie who works in IT for Defence, will be flying their 1974 Piper Cherokee 140 almost 4,000 km over some of the most isolated country in Australia. Connie says they were inspired to join the 40-plus aircraft in the race, after reading about the RFDS’s funding situation. ‘We saw an article about the RFDS’s funding model being largely unchanged since 2006, so they’re still maintaining services across outback Australia with essentially the same money they had in 2006’, she says.
The race, a time trial which allows aircraft of all types to be competitive, takes off in Darwin on 29 August, and finishes in Coffs Harbour on 10 September. Along the route, competitors are allocated a certain number of points each day, with points deducted for each second they are late, and each metre they are away from the coordinated point. ‘So,’ they say, although ‘we’re not the fastest plane in the race, we could be competitive: it’s all about how accurately you navigate, and timing your arrival at certain points.’ The Cherokee’s new avionics will come in handy, too.
Thanks to sponsors like Avisure, the Wacky Warbos are not too far off their fundraising target of $15,000. If you would like to help them reach their goal, you can donate and support them and the RFDS’s vital outback service at outback-air-race.raisely.com/the-wacky-warbos/