Graphic: Vintage plane
Brian, from Cockburn on the border of NSW and South Australia, is a long-time supporter of the Service who recently wrote in and offered some of his unique insights on the history of the Service.
In the latter part of December 1947 I had appendicitis. The Flying doctor came out to Kalkaroo as they had a serviceable strip. The pilot was Lelwyn Woolcot and Dr Woods was the doctor. He told my father that I should have been operated on hours earlier.
I was taken to the Hill and operated on that night. My parents were advised to come in as I was not expected to survive as peritonitis (a potentially fatal inflammation of the abdomen lining) had set in. Of the six doctors who had a look at me at my father’s request, Dr Woods was the only one who still had hope. The staff at the hospital were magnificent and I had no idea that all the gear attached to me was not normal. I spent 25 days in hospital.
In those days of course there was only one aircraft- the Dragon- one doctor and one pilot and they did a mighty job.
One of the Flying Doctor staff in the early days, Vic Cover, deserves recognition for the effort he put into organising airstrips and helping people install the radios. This alone helped save a lot of people who would have otherwise died.
He was a superb pilot and during the war was a pathfinder indicating bombing targets.
In those days, because we were closer than 10 miles from Kalkaroo, we were not permitted to have a transceiver. Our only communication was the telephone, the line being the top wire of a wooden post fence. Vic asked me why we did not have a transceiver and when I told him we were too close to Kalkaroo, his comment was ‘I will fix that’. A fortnight later the transceiver was at Mingary for us.
It was installed quickly and was a superb device and helped a lot of people here get help.
The RFDS does a great job.