The same model of war plane which was used to train Australian pilots during World War II will take to the skies throughout the Bundaberg Region next weekend as part of Anzac Day commemorations.
The Wirraway will be piloted by Ross Parker on Sunday, 25 April and will make flights across the region to honour those soldiers who fought for their country.
Ross said Wirraways began production in 1939 and continued until 1945.
“The design is based on an American design from the North American Aviation Company but was modified to Australian specifications and wholly made in Australia at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation,” he said.
“This particular Wirraway was built in 1945 and served with the RAAF until 1957.”
According to Ross, the plane was completely restored in 1997 and has flown around the region for various events spanning 20 years, including many appearances on Anzac Day and at air shows.
He said he had been honoured with piloting the Wirraway for 24 years after a long career with the RAAF.
“I joined the RAAF straight out of high school and have been flying since 1973,” Ross said.
“During my 14 years in the RAAF I flew Caribou aircraft and was a pilot in the VIP Squadron based in Canberra flying the Prime Ministers and Governor General as well as being involved with the Royal Tour of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1983.
“I then flew commercial aircraft for 30 years and now in semi-retirement my company, Warplanes Pty Ltd, flies this Wirraway aircraft and other warbirds.”
Wirraways a challenge for pilots
Ross said there were many features that made the Wirraway so unique.
“The Wirraway is quite a conventional training aircraft for its time although many say it lives up to its aboriginal name which means ‘challenge',” he said.
“It is quite a demanding aircraft under certain circumstances and it unfortunately claimed many lives during its training days with the RAAF.”
Ross said aside from the “challenge” of mastering such an aircraft, he loved the incredible heritage associated with it.
“I enjoy displaying the aircraft to the public on the air and on the ground so we can all share the history and personal stories of the brave servicemen who flew in these aircraft,” he said.
“It is a great reminder, especially on Anzac Day, of the sacrifice and courage shown by Australians during these times of conflict.”
This Anzac Day, Ross and his Wirraway will once again be bound for Bundaberg Region skies.
“I will conduct five separate flights to help ten of the local towns and districts to commemorate their various services,” he said.
“This includes areas such as Woodgate, Bargara, Elliott Heads, Burnett Heads, South Kolan, Gin Gin, Childers, Buxton, Moore Park and of course, the Bundaberg memorial.
“Warplanes Pty Ltd is proud to be part of the region’s Anzac Day commemorations and we consider our aircraft to be almost part of the local aviation community.”
For those wishing to view the Wirraway up close, Ross said there would be an opportunity for public flights in the days leading up to and after Anzac Day.
To find out more, visit the Warplanes Facebook page here or head to the website here.
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