Husband and wife team lead Outback Air Race

The scene from the first leg of the 2022 competition Outback Air Race Facebook
The scene from the first leg of the 2022 competition. (Outback Air Race Facebook)

The Outback Air Race finally began on Monday, with husband-and-wife team Ian and Connie Warburton winning the first leg in their 1974 Piper Cherokee 140.

The pair will now compete in the second round, which will see the 41 teams fly more than 900 kilometres from Cooinda in the Northern Territory to Adels Grove in Queensland.

The 2022 race — which did not go ahead in 2021 due to COVID — sees 100 competitors fly a total of 3,800 kilometres across three different states.

The 13-day challenge culminates in a finale at Coffs Harbour on 11 September. So far, the event has raised $548,676.

Ian Warburton has spent 53 years in the RAAF while his wife Connie works in IT for Defence.

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Their team, called Wacky Warbos, are flying a 47-year-old Piper named “Twodogs”, usually kept hangared at Canberra Airport.

The Outback Air Race raises funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and has garnered more than $3.1 million in donations since its foundation in 1996.

Locations covered include Darwin to Cooinda, Adels Grove, Karumba, Undara, Shute Harbour, Gladstone, Roma and Goondiwindi.

Along the way, 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.

You can track the entrants progress live via this link.

Australian Aviation previously reported how competitors this year would include the first Australian woman to ski to both the South and North poles.

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Linda Beilharz was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2010 and also named Australian Geographic Society’s Adventurer of the Year.

In 2004, she became the first Australian woman to ski 1,100 kilometres from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole.

Then, 16 years later, she trekked for 56 days over cracking ice to reach the North Pole. In total, Beilharz skied 780 kilometres, including covering 27 kilometres in 17-hour days with just an hour’s sleep per night.

Her team, the Hopeful Hildas, have already raised more than $15,000.

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