Tags: History. Royal Flying Doctor Service
IF YOU START SOMETHING WORTHWHILE
In all populated areas, prompt medical treatment is regarded as easily accessible but those who live in the more remote regions of Australia have to rely on receiving treatment by the dedicated professionals who belong to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and on May 17th, 2018, the RFDS celebrated their ninetieth year of delivering treatment by air. The revolutionary new service was founded by the Reverend John Flynn after a series of events which were to serve as proof of his wisdom in saying that “If you start something worthwhile – nothing can stop it.”
Featured Image(above): Reverend John Flynn
Flynn had been well aware for some time of the daily struggle that was experienced by the pioneers who lived in remote areas and his quest for a solution began after he received a letter from Lieutenant Clifford Peel, a Victorian medical student with an avid interest in aviation. The letter contained a suggestion that aviation could be used as a means of providing medical aid to the outback and, whilst this suggestion was put in place eleven years later, the young airman and war hero died after being shot down over France and never knew that his letter had been a blueprint for the Flying Doctor Service.
Reverend Flynn lobbied constantly for assistance in founding the service and his dream came to fruition when long-time supporter H.V. McKay left a sizeable bequest for an aerial experiment. Flynn was able to open the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service, (later to become the Royal Flying Doctor Service) on May 15th in 1928 and two days later, a single engine timber and fabric bi-plane which was named “Victory” and rented from QANTAS flew from Longreach to Julia Creek to treat a patient.
The aircraft was piloted by Captain Arthur Affleck and the first ‘Flying Doctor” was Dr Kenyon, St Vincent. Over the following twelve months, “Victory” made fifty flights to twenty-six destinations and enabled the treatment of 225 patients. Over the next few years, the RFDS expanded across the country and by the late 1930’s, almost all of the outback had access to the Flying Doctor.
The twenty dollar note features an image of Reverend John Flynn and the RFDs first
aircraft – Victory
In Queensland, the base at Cloncurry remained operational until 1964 when it was relocated to Mt Isa. Ninety years on from that first flight, The Royal Flying Doctor Service has become an essential part of life in the outback and now operates sixty-nine aircraft out of twenty-four bases. The service has provided treatment to 336,358 patients in the last year alone.