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"If you start something worthwhile - nothing can stop it." The words of Reverend John Flynn, the man behind the Royal Flying Doctor Service that first took to the skies this week 90 years ago. After ten years of lobbying, Flynn finally secured the money for a one-year trial of an Aerial Medical Service based in Cloncurry on 15 May 1928. Two days later, it got its first call-out. Flying in Victory, a single-engine, fabric-covered bi-plane, Qantas pilot Arthur Affleck and surgeon Dr Kenyon St Vincent Welch flew to Julia Creek to attend to their first patients. With no navigational aids or radio they navigated by landmarks such as fences, rivers, roads and telegraph lines. In that first year, the service made 50 call-outs and treated 225 patients, expanding across the inland over the next decade.

Picture: Bruce Howard collection, National Library of Australia

Published: 13 April 2018


Forgotten Territory was a weekly photo column of historic images in the Northern Territory News which I curated from 2016 until 2019 supported by the collections of the Northern Territory Library and other cultural institutions around Australia, as well as local history Facebook groups. 

Click on the images to read the story behind the image.

Warning: May contain images of people who have died.

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