By Jess Baker
A local remote control flying club has been presented with grant-funded equipment to assist it in its recovery from drought.
The keys to a brand new ride-on mower were officially handed over to Warwick Aero Modellers on Thursday 24 June by Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi and Councillor Andrew Gale.
The club was announced a recipient of a one-off $5000 grant for the purchase of the equipment just last month, after submitting an application for the federal government’s Drought Communities program through Southern Downs Regional Council in April.
Warwick Aero Modellers president Dennis Mooney said the club had received a number of grants in recent years – totalling nearly $70,000 – to fund the construction of fencing, a disabled toilet, and other accessibility improvements.
“In five years, we’ve achieved a lot – three grants – and it’s really great the council’s helped us along the way as well,” Dennis said.
Club grants coordinator Garry Heard said the group had gone to great lengths to build an all-inclusive clubhouse, with a focus on remote controlled aero modelling.
“We intend to offer support activities like building models to fly, simulator training and a friendly place to just come chat over a coffee,” Garry said.
“We see our club as a place where there is a sense of belonging for all to enjoy.”
The ride-on mower will be used to help maintain the club’s air strip and field, which Garry said was damaged by kangaroos desperate for food during the drought.
“As it’s an ongoing issue until the new boundary fence is completed, we need to wait before replacing lost topsoil and re-grass some areas,” he said.
“Without assistance like this federal initiative, and SDRC support, our members would be fundraising for many years to come, with little chance of reaching our goals.”
The club’s commitment to making aero modelling an activity all can enjoy was praised at the presentation on Thursday by a number of local disability support organisations.
Warwick and District Disability Support Group chairman Peter Stacy said it was crucial the needs of people with a disability were elevated in the community.
“So little things like the height of light switches, mobility issues, vision issues, hearing impairment and things of that nature are really important to them because they can’t advocate for these things themselves,” Peter said.
“Only by them being included in the community do their needs become apparent to others and it is in that particular context that I’m so happy to be here.”
Mayor Vic Pennisi reflected on the work of the club and its dedicated volunteers.
“I always say, it’s not councils, it’s not governments that make communities. It’s people like you, the people that are sitting here,” Cr Pennisi said.
“You are the guys, you are the powerhouse of what makes this a great place to work, live, play, stay.”
Warwick Aero Modellers has now been operating for 11 years, and currently comprises 32 members – many of whom will travel lengthy distances each week to build, fly, and race their models.
Those interested in becoming a member of the club, or in seeing model planes fly for themselves, are welcome to contact club president Dennis Mooney on 0438 477 974.
More information can be found at www.wamqld.com.