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CareFlight helicopter celebrates 24 years of service

In an important milestone for RACQ CareFlight Rescue, its Toowoomba-based Bell 412 XCO helicopter today celebrates 24 years of lifesaving service.

Affectionately known as “Clive” after well-known philanthropist Clive Berghofer or “Oscar”, the helicopter joined CareFlight’s operational fleet in 2009 as South West Queensland’s dedicated rescue chopper.

Since then, Oscar has kept a watchful eye over communities in the South West, flying more than 2,500 vital airlifts and saving thousands of lives across every corner of southern Queensland.

“Today marks the 24th birthday for VH-XCO, Toowoomba’s trusty helicopter,” CareFlight Aircrewman Ryan Purchase said.

“It’s incredible to think this iconic helicopter has been flying right here in our community for almost a quarter of a century.”

Oscar was manufactured in Fort Worth, Texas 24 years ago.

“It started its life as a demonstration model for Bell Helicopter, and rumour has it, even spent a little time flying the Pope around before being shipped to Australia to be used as an emergency helicopter,” Mr Purchase said.

CareFlight’s Toowoomba service provides invaluable peace of mind to regional communities, ensuring all residents and visitors have access to rapid response air-medical care.

The charitable rescue service began part-time operations in Toowoomba back in 2006 and has been running the 24/7 service full-time since 2010, thanks to ongoing community support.