J Atcheson Spalding

J Atcheson Spalding ( – 1970) Flying doctor
J Atcheson Spalding was a flying doctor, appointed by Reverend John Flynn, who served at Cloncurry 1929-30.  He stabilised procedure of relationship with local hospitals and ambulance brigades.


The text below is sourced generally unedited from TROVE digitised newspapers and more
The scanned text will be progressively corrected.

Second Appointment

The Canberra Times ACT : Tuesday 30 April 1929

The Australian Inland Mission (A.I.M.), which is sponsored by the Presbyterian Church, but which is national in its outlook and character, has recently appointed its second flying doctor.

This time the choice fell upon a graduate of the Melbourne University, Dr. J. Atcheson Spalding.

Dr. K. St. Vincent Welch, the pioneer doctor, who was the first medical man in the world to be set free to do nothing else, but to assist a scattered population in time of sickness, retired on April 23, last, as he completed his year’s work.

Full particulars of the excellent service he rendered, will, no doubt, be made public by the authorities of the A.l.M. In the meantime, it has been permitted, to us to glance over the notes of’ the doctor’s diary. The romance of it all thrills one. We see the isolated sick men and women, and we hear the throb of the DU50 aerial ambulance hastening to their aid as we read the brief records.

We notice that the doctor attended to the patients in the first eight months, which involved 4,000 miles of flying. At times the call comes late in the day, so the doctor and his pilot dash away in the twilight, to land on a not-too-even ground, by the light thrown by two or three motor car lamps, placed so as to help the flyers as much as possible.  Again, a call was received one day at 2 p.m., a patient in violent agony requiring the services of the flying doctor. He had made a plucky effort, and had travelled 50 miles by car, but still 200 miles away, he has to give in, and the message is sent which secures the presence of the flying doctor, and shortly after 5 o’clock a gangrenous appendix was removed, and life of  a respected, hard-working Australian was saved.

Some time later a call was received of 1000 miles over country where two from Duvonport this involved a night days before, two men were found, after having been lost for four-days. They had a close call for their lives.

After attending to his patient, the doctor brought her into the nearest district hospital. We quote the words in the doctor’s notes:

“A kind-faced gin was looking after the patient and her two children, and she was very good in helping things along generally.

As we left the ground, with the sun high above the machine, the shadow made a perfect cross upon the ground, and, following the course of the shadow, I saw it pass slowly over a little enclosure near the home-stead. I looked closer, and saw that it was a tiny cemetery, with two white headstones.

And that shadow of the cross was formed by the aerial medical ambulance, which included a doctor, who flew 500 miles to prevent the need of a third headstone in that tiny cemetery.

Such deeds of mercy will appeal to our Australian people. Just as calls are transmitted by telegraphy or telephone, but where these means do not exist, the A.l.M. is providing a small transmitting and receiving wireless set which is cheap, effective, foolproof, and weighs less than 20lb (twenty lbs) and has a range from 500 to 800 miles. At present A.I.M. wireless expert is out in Western Queensland, experimenting with these tools, and teaching the lonely settlers to use the Morse code”.


Alfred Traeger (1895 – 1980) inventor of the pedal radio

Kenyon St. Vincent Welch (1884 – 1942) first ‘flying’ doctor

John Flynn’s associates


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