This weekend, a team of RAF Engineer Officers from Air Command at RAF High Wycombe took on 69 teams at the annual Red Bull Soapbox Race at Alexandra Palace and claimed eighth place.
Team Must Dash, decked out in WW2 Bomber Command costumes and moustaches, also won the People's Choice Award – this was awarded to the public's favourite soapbox and earnt them a place on the podium. They were proud to support the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF's leading welfare charity, and RAF Association in the lead up to the event and on the weekend itself.
The core 'crew' of James Sinclair as 'Ginger', James Lainchbury as 'Biggles', Paul Emerson as 'Tug' and Dan Ruane as 'Bertie' were supported on the day by Ian Withers as 'Mac', Chris Phipps as 'The Bish' and Ken Pike as 'Barron'. They are Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Ambassadors and wanted a soapbox designed to reflect the spirit of the RAF, and inspire future generations to consider careers in RAF Engineering and STEM areas. They based their soapbox on a Lancaster Bomber, with a 'pilot' and 'rear gunner' as it represented this perfectly and they hoped would catch the public's imagination.
James Sinclair was the driving force behind the team, encouraging the others to take part having seen an advert on television for the competition.
He explains: "As a kid my parents helped me make a little wooden soapbox to race in, so I had the 'soapbox bug' from a very early age! Taking part in the Red Bull Soapbox Race, with its big jumps and tight hay-bale chicanes, was a massive step up though!"
Paul Emerson headed up the main build phase: "There was great team work between usthroughout the project. We were very resourceful – our soapbox was made mainly from recycled items such as the scrap wheelie bins that formed the fuselage, a used ladder for the main chassis and an old all-terrain kart for some much needed suspension and steering parts!"
Dan Ruane added that "as Engineer Officers, it was a chance to turn some theory into practice, whilst promoting engineering as a fun and diverse career choice. It also allowed us to raise awareness of some great RAF charities, with a crowd of 20,000 people in attendance on the day and the chance of being on Dave TV forever!"
The aim was to uphold the reputation of RAF Engineering, and the soapbox managed to successfully complete the course with absolutely minimal damage compared to the majority of entrants. James Lainchbury concluded that: "We were really pleased with 8th overall, as first time entrants, and hopefully have managed to encourage young people to consider STEM subject choices and future engineering careers in the RAF".