Graphic: Captain James Williams in front of an RFDS Aircraft

RFDS pilot celebrates 20 years helping Queenslanders

Date published

03 Sep 2020

A flight with his high school teacher has manifested into a rewarding, 20-year career as a pilot with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) for Captain James Williams.

Capt. Williams reflects fondly on that fateful flight when he was just 17 years old.

“A school teacher of mine was a pilot and he took me up for a flight. I knew straight away that’s what I wanted to do, and when I told him, he said I was old enough to get a medical and start now. So, I got into it, and here I am 42 years later,” Capt. Williams said.

Capt. James Williams in an RFDS Aircraft

Capt. Williams is now a Flight Standards Piot with the RFDS in Queensland, training new and existing pilots across the state – a long way from his humble beginnings as an ag pilot in Goondiwindi.

Over the 20 years he’s worked with the RFDS, he has flown as an aeromedical pilot from a number of RFDS bases including Charleville, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Brisbane, among others.

This has taken him from areas near Birdsville in the far south west of the state, to Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

In fact, he still remembers his first day, flying a retrieval flight not too far from the famous Dig Tree in the very south west corner of Queensland. 

“My very first day was with the training captain and we had a clinic run to Birdsville,” he said. “We ended up being re-tasked twice that day. Once to a station near the Dig Tree in the far western part of Queensland near the South Australian border. 

“My training captain asked if I had ever landed on dirt before. Fortunately, I had during my years as an ag pilot. I remember that flight with a lot of affection, even today.

”But it’s the incredible impact his flying has had on the people of Queensland and working as part of a dedicated team that keeps him coming back every day.

“The thing that surprised me most all those years ago, was what I got out of carrying patients and seeing exactly what it was that our doctors and nurses do to deliver that care,” Capt. Williams said. 

“That really ticked an altruistic box for me, and that still happens today. I still get a great sense of achievement when we arrive at a destination and know that we've helped someone.”