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Reproduced courtesy of Graeme Andrews

Ken Warby with SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA and RAAF apprentices

Date: 8 October 1978
Overall: 35 × 38 × 1 mm
Medium: Colour transparency
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Graeme Andrews
Object Copyright: © Graeme Andrews
Object Name: Transparency
Object No: ANMS1163[387]
Related Place:Blowering Reservoir,

User Terms

    Ken Warby and RAAF aprrent8ices looking over SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA prior to his record breaking run at Blowering Dam on 8 October 1978.
    Warby had enlisted the help of RAAF apprentices in overhauling SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA's engine at the RAAF training facility at Forest Hill, New South Wales.
    SignificanceKen Warby, SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA's designer, builder and driver, achieved his world water-speed records on a shoestring budget. The boat was built over two years in the backyard of his suburban Sydney home, using stringers, brackets, stock bits of timber, plywood, screws and epoxy, and launched in 1974.
    HistoryThe Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) had been involved in Ken Warby's first record breaking run in 1977. They had officially been approached by Warby in 1975 but the beaucracy he encountered from the Federal government was not encouraging but considering he had not set a record yet or proved SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA's viability, it was probably also not surprising.
    In 1977 Warby went to the RAAF directly by turning up at the Fairbairn RAAF base near Canberra and requesting permission to use the jet engine run-up pad.
    The base agreed and flight sergeant's Peter Lyzun and Peter Dorman oversaw the testing of SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA.
    This initial testing was not wholly successful as the afterburner, needed to add more thrust, did not light and in the process the engine of SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA was damaged by a screwdriver left in there by Warby.
    A replacement engine was retrieved from Warby's backyard and the RAAF technicians assisted Warby to install it. It was this engine that Warby set the new world water speed record with.
    In 1978 the RAAF officially assisted Warby with his preparations to break the 300 mph barrier. The RAAF facility at Forest Hill near Wagga Wagga saw the opportunity of apprentices to work on a J34 Westinghouse engine as part of their training.
    Warby situated SPIRIT OF AUSTRALIA at the base and work by the RAAF apprentices on its engines became an official RAAF component. But the boat itself also required work and this was carried out on a volunteer basis by apprentices after hours.
    On the day of the second record attempt, 8 October 1978, the RAAF apprentices were present at Blowering Dam, overseeing their work and wearing the distinctive blue tracksuits Warby had bought them.

    Related People
    Photographer: Graeme Andrews

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