Graphic: RFDS aircraft prepares for take off in outback Australia

RFDS Celebrates 90 Years

Date published

15 May 2018

In 1917, the death of Jimmy Darcy, a stockman injured near Halls Creek in the Kimberley region of Western Australia ignited a national debate over the lack of medical services to the outback. 

That same year, founder and leader of the Australian Inland Mission (AIM), Reverend John Flynn received an inspirational letter from Lieutenant Clifford Peel, a Victorian medical student and aviator. Peel suggested the use of aircraft to bridge the vast distances of the interior; shot down in action over France shortly after, Peel never knew that his letter became a blueprint for the creation of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. 

Flynn commenced his 10-year campaign to provide an aerial medical service and to fulfil his vision for a ‘mantle of safety’ for the people of the outback. In 1925, met Alfred Traeger, an Adelaide engineer, who was employed as a radio expert and electrician by AIM to develop Morse code communications across large distances.

On 15 May 1928, Flynn's dream became a reality when a long time supporter, H.V. (Hugh) McKay, left a large bequest for 'an aerial experiment', enabling Flynn to establish the AIM’s Aerial Medical Service.