Australia’s outback air race will celebrate the Royal Flying Doctor’s 90th anniversary and includes an overnight stopover in Katherine.
A record field of 42 light aircraft, pilots and their passengers gather for the start of the 2018 Outback Air Race in Queensland.
This year’s race, which will see teams travel 4000km westward over 12 days, is especially significant as the RFDS celebrates the 90th anniversary of its first flight out of Cloncurry on May 17, 1928.
Ending in Broome, the event pays tribute to WA stockman Jimmy Darcy whose untimely death on a remote Kimberley cattle station in 1917 inspired Reverend John Flynn’s vision for an outback aeromedical service.
They’ll be making stops in Bundaberg (August 19), Longreach (August 20, 21), Mount Isa (August 22), Adele Grove (August 23,24), Daly Waters (August 25), Katherine (August 26, 27), Kununurra (August 28, 29) and lastly in Broome (August 30, 31).
Since its inception in 1996, the Outback Air Race has raised more than $2 million for the RFDS, and in the last event alone in 2015, raised in excess of $585,000 – an amount it hopes to match or even better this year.
The RFDS is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to people over an area of 7.69 million square kilometres.
Last year, the RFDS made nearly 337,000 patient contacts through healthcare clinics, aeromedical transports and telehealth consultations to those living in remote and regional Australia.
The RFDS fleet of 69 aircraft flew nearly 26.5 million kilometres - that’s equivalent to 34 trips to the moon and back, or more than 600 flights around the earth.
OAR event manager Stuart Payne said it was great to have the event fully subscribed in 2018 as the RFDS celebrates 90 years of essential life-saving service to the people of Australia.
“This event provides competitors with a unique opportunity to raise much needed funds for Australia’s most iconic charity, to see the beauty of outback Australia from light aircraft,” Mr Payne said.
“Teams will also get the opportunity to visit outback centres and meet new people there, people who are so appreciative of the life saving service that the RFDS provides.
“For the one hundred plus people participating in our event, it really is a case of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
The OAR is a GPS-based navigation time trial where pilots are scored based on their ability to predict the time taken to fly each leg (timed down to fractions of a second), and their accuracy at flying over visual start and finish points.
The race leaves Archerfield Airport on Sunday, August 19 and can be tracked via the OAR website.
The race will conclude in Broome on August 31 after travelling through towns including Bundaberg, Longreach, Mount Isa, Adele Grove, Daly Waters, Katherine and Kununurra.
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