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Volunteer makes model CareFlight jet

CareFlight volunteer and model hobbyist Graham ‘Abe’ Wilson has spent the last six weeks holed up in his “man shed” completing his biggest replica aircraft model to date.

The talented Gold Coaster combined his 60-year passion for model building with his love for RACQ CareFlight Rescue, building a to-scale model of the charity’s Air Ambulance Learjet 45.

“I started building plastic aircraft kits as a youngster. My main passion is flying boat models especially the short flying boats which flew from the 1930s to the 60s,” he said.

When he’s not busy building, Abe hosts behind-the-scenes tours of CareFlight’s Gold Coast Airport hangar, helping to raise vital funds for CareFlight’s lifesaving fixed and rotary wing air-medical service.

When telling tour groups about CareFlight’s Air Ambulance Learjet, Abe soon realised the jet was often away on lifesaving missions. He took matters into his own hands, building the replica model to display during hangar tours.

Abe even worked closely with CareFlight engineer Dave Thomas to get the exact specifications and dimensions of the Learjet 45 VH-CXJ.

It’s the first replica model of CareFlight’s Learjet ever created and took Abe six weeks of ‘blood, sweat and tears’.

“The Learjet is by far the biggest model I've ever made and it took about 200 hours,” he said.

Abe’s no stranger to aviation modelling, having been commissioned by Qantas to renovate travel agent aircraft models of 747s in the past.

“I repaired and repainted the models into new paint schemes and converted some into 747-400s at the same time. Some of these are now on display at their Longreach museum,” he said.

The CareFlight Learjet model now sits proudly in the foyer of CareFlight’s Gold Coast base and Graham is utilising his model jet as a visual aid during hangar tours to talk about the role the jets play in CareFlight’s operations.

CareFlight's air ambulance fleet comprises two Learjets, a 45 and a 45XR, and a Challenger CL-601 strategically located at Brisbane and Townsville International Airports. The jets join a fleet of six community rescue helicopters that are tasked from bases in Toowoomba, Bundaberg and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.