RFDS Celebrates Ninety-One Years

Date published

15 May 2019

Today marks a significant day in our Nation’s history. 

After years of campaigning, John Flynn's vision of providing a 'mantle of safety' for the people of the bush became a reality. The Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service, later the Australian Aerial Medical Mission, then Flying Doctor Service, before becoming the Royal Flying Doctor Service, was created ninety-one years ago today. The first flight of the RFDS took place two days after on the 17th of May. 

Prior to the formation of the RFDS there was little medical help for people who lived in places far from cities. If they were seriously injured they had to travel hundreds of kilometres by horse, cart, or camel to reach a doctor. They often died before they got there.

John Flynn letter

Flynn had long been an advocate for the 'brave pioneers' living in rural and remote Australia and he required the support of the government to assist with his vision of an aerial medical service. 

Today, a few days out from the Federal Election we ask the government to think of Flynn’s vision those 91 years ago, and consider the support that is still needed to continue to improve health in rural Australia.

Flying Doctor Service the AIM experiment 1928-1939

This Map is part of the Australian Inland Mission map collection and shows the coverage of radio (blue) and reach of planes (red) from the first RFDS base in Cloncurry from the period of May 1928 to September 1939. 

Compare this to the maps below that shows our current services.

John Flynn Biography
Bases of the RFDS 2018

The staff, volunteers, and supporters of the RFDS have saved the lives of, and cared for, millions of fortunate Australians over nine decades.