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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 7

I The First 100 Years 1788-1888

II Railways

III Motorised Vehicles

IV Aviation
i Local Inventions, Research, Design and Manufacture
ii The Development of Air Transport: The Trail Blazers
iii The Services
iv The Royal Flying Doctor Service
v Ground Aids and Safety Innovations
vi From Aviation to Modern Shipping

V Modern Shipping

VI Innovative Small Craft

VII Conclusion

VIII Acknowledgements

IX Contributors



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The Royal Flying Doctor Service

Whilst the name of the Rev. John Flynn of the Australian Inland Mission of the Presbyterian Church is usually, and quite properly, associated with the inception of this service, two other names should also be mentioned. One is the medical student, Clifford Peel, who, in 1917 suggested the use of aircraft in providing rapid access of, and to, the medical services in the outback (Fig. 31); the other is Alfred H. Traeger, an electrical engineer, who developed and perfected (between 1924 and 1926), the other essential ingredient of the service, namely, the pedal radio, an innovative communication link for the people of outback Australia which also made possible the School of the Air.

Figure 31

31 Beechcraft aircraft used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (photo courtesy Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia)

The first Flying Doctor base started operations in August 1927, with Dr. K. St. Vincent Welch being the first flying doctor, using a DH50 aircraft. During the first year of operations, 20,000 air-miles were flown in some 50 flights and 255 persons were attended. In 1955, the Service was granted the prefix 'Royal'. Currently the Royal Flying Doctor Service operates from some 13 centres in all States except Victoria, and other medical services, using aircraft, operate in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. Close to 10,000 flights with patients are being performed yearly throughout Australia. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is an excellent example of a typical Australian innovation which, at its inception, involved the use of two high technology elements -aircraft and radio, in solving a pressing social need.[45]

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Inland Mission; Presbyterian Church in Australia; Royal Flying Doctor Service; School of the Air

People in Bright Sparcs - Flynn, Rev. John; Peel, Clifford; Schaetzel, Stanley S.; Traeger, Alfred H.; Welch, Dr K. St Vincent

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© 1988 Print Edition page 515, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher