Graphic: Dream career takes flight
From his earliest experience learning to fly, Elliott Johnston had only one dream – to work for the Flying Doctor. Determination and commitment – and an enduring passion to help people – has led to a dream come true for Senior Base Pilot, Elliott.
Where are you based?
Charleville. I feel extremely grateful to work in Charleville – the team I work with are incredibly dedicated, experienced and passionate. We are all friends outside of work and play volleyball or have dinner with each other and our families. The community of Charleville is incredibly supportive of the Flying Doctor and appreciative of the care we provide. I didn’t know much about Charleville before I started working here nearly three years ago, but I love it now and very much feel at home.
How old were you when you started flying?
It all began with remote control airplanes. One of the men involved in the club was a pilot for a major airline and was high up in CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority), and had a plane in the hangar behind the flying school and introduced me. I got my first licence when I was 15. It was so interesting, that 10 years later, the same man was then the instructor who gave me my accreditation that allowed me to fulfil my dream of working for the RFDS.
What was your motivation for wanting to be a pilot for the RFDS?
When I started flying, I knew that I wanted to work for the RFDS. Actually, that’s all I wanted to do. I knew I needed to get some experience, so I was flying up in the Northern Territory for a bit – in remote areas, using my problem-solving skills, working with VIPs and in the mining industry. Those experiences were incredible but the goal always to work for the RFDS.
Why is working for the RFDS so special?
Where else would you fly somewhere and feel so appreciated? Working for the RFDS is about transporting doctors and nurses to help people, helping to connect rural and remote communities with healthcare services they might not otherwise have, and helping to save lives. There really is no better job in the world, or a better place to do that than in the Queensland outback.
What's your best experience in your time with the RFDS?
Every time I fly with our doctors and nurses to help people is incredible. Every day is different and that's what I really love about being a pilot with the RFDS. A really special day for me was being able to show my mum through an RFDS aircraft - she was in awe of the back of cabin, describing it as 'an ICU in the sky'.
What does the future hold for you?
I can honestly say I can't see myself working anywhere else. No other pilot job would ever compare to the RFDS. I want to continue helping people, and would love to be involved in the future with teaching and training of pilots for the RFDS.