In 1928, flying was still in its early days. The first Flying Doctor pilot, Arthur Affleck, had no navigational aids, no radio and only a compass and inadequate maps. He navigated by landmarks such as fences, rivers, riverbeds and telegraph lines and flew in an open cockpit, fully exposed to the weather, behind the doctor's cabin. Airstrips were, at the best claypans or at the worst, hastily cleared paddocks. Flights were normally made during daylight hours although night flights were attempted in cases of extreme urgency. Fuel supplies were also carried on flights until fuel dumps were established at strategic outstations.
The Service initially used contractors to provide aircraft, pilots and servicing. In the 1960's the RFDS progressively began to purchase aircraft and employ their own pilots and engineers.
Although the aircraft are guided by satellite navigation systems, landings must often be made in difficult circumstances such as on remote dirt airstrips, lit at night by kerosene flares or car headlights. In extreme emergencies, landings may be made on suitable stretches of road on remote highways.
As when the Service first began, the pilots continue to be responsible for determining if a flight can be safely undertaken in the prevailing weather conditions.
“So well done”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed Nov 2021
This museum somes it up perfectly. The short hologram presentation was well done, the virtual head set thing was mind blowing waht the nurse had to go thru. The plane gives you a sense of reality. All excellent. And make a donation to such a good cause.
“An amazing exhibition of Royal Flying Doctor history and activities.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed Oct 2021
There is a mockup of a real aircraft that you can walk through. And there are some virtual reality experiences that you can try. For example, you image yourself in the cabin sitting near the flight nurse who is trating a patient for serious injury, and you can imagine yourself on the flight deck observing the pilot actually flying the aircraft. For those interested in historical aspects, there is an excellent display of various models of two way radios used by remote stations to communicate with the RFDS base over the different eras.
“Great history and insight into the service. Well worth the visit”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2021
Took the time to visit the RFDS Museum and display and found it to be really good. Very informative and friendly staff. The hologram presentation about the history with John Flynn was really cool.
“Another MUST DO attractions at Alice!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2021
Est. 1928 - it's a fascinating base, a museum, live presentations, video, VR (Virtual Reality) experiences - where we learnt about the day-to-day of the medical team, pilots and engineers - and the patients they carry and care for... Also a large gift shop - and interesting replica plane inside the centre - you can go through it...