Ninety years ago today (15 May), pilot Arthur Affleck and Doctor Kenyon St Vincent Welch flew in the first Qantas DH-50A from Longreach to Cloncurry to launch the Australian Inland Mission (AIM) Aerial Medical Service.
The aeroplane had been named ‘Hermes’ as an airliner but was renamed ‘Victory’, partly to honour Hugh Victor McKay a harvester manufacturer who had died two years earlier and left money to the AIM for an ‘aerial experiment’ and partly because the establishment of the service was seen as a victory for people in the bush.
A number of people, including a medical student/pilot named John Clifford Peel who died in France in 1918, contributed to the idea but it was the AIM’s Reverend John Flynn who pulled it together and made it happen by leasing a QANTAS aircraft and pilot.
The Aerial Medical Service became the Flying Doctor Service in 1942 and was awarded the ‘Royal’ prefix in March 1955.
Happy 90th birthday to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and thank you for all you have done for our communities!