History of RFDS Sections

photo of plane

On 15 May 1928, John Flynn's dream became a reality with the opening of the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service in Cloncurry, Queensland (later to be renamed the Royal Flying Doctor Service). From the first flight in a single engine, fabric covered bi-plane, the RFDS steadily grew in size, scope and reach.

Over the next few years, the RFDS began to expand across the country:

Victoria: The Victorian Section of the Australian Aerial Medical Services was the first to be formed, in 1934. The generous and caring public of Victoria, lead by philanthropists from the Presbyterian church, initiated responsibility for providing aeromedical and other health services to the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, which is twice the size of Victoria but at that time had a population of less than 20,000 people. The first base at Wyndham, WA was opened in 1935 and Victorians have been supporting remote health services ever since.

South Australia and Northern Territory: Central Operations was formed in 1936 and initially operated (from 1937) as the South Australian Section out of Broken Hill, jointly with the New South Wales Section. The first base owned and operated independently by SA Section was opened in Alice Springs in 1939. The SA Section became Central Operations in 2001.

New South Wales: The NSW Section was formed in 1936. Its Broken Hill base was initially operated jointly by the South Australian and New South Wales Sections and became operational in 1937. Later became known as South Eastern Section.

Goldfields Western Australia
The Eastern Goldfields Section was officially established in 1937. In the Kalgoorlie area aircraft were flown on medical missions as far back as the early 1930s - before they were used for this purpose in most other parts of Australia. At that time the Goldfields Flying Doctor Service provided a medical service for people in the outback. Earliest records of the Service go back to 1931 or 1932.

Rest of Western Australia
The Western Australian Section was officially registered on June 14, 1936. However, a provisional Section Committee had already bought a de Havilland Fox Moth Aircraft in 1935. The Section's first base at Port Hedland became operative on October 10 of that year, and the first medical flight was made on the opening day.

Queensland: Although the RFDS began in Queensland, The Queensland Section was not registered in its own right until 1939. The Cloncurry base remained operational until 1964 when it was relocated to Mount Isa.

Tasmania: The Tasmanian Section was the last Section to be formed in July 1960, although emergency medical flights were operated in Tasmania long before that, going back to the 1930s.