VH-UER The first air ambulance
The aircraft VH-UER was used for general aviation until 1928 when it was refurbished for use as the first air ambulance for the Australian Inland Mission (AIM) – as can be seen by the small Maltese Cross under the pilot’s cockpit. Upon starting service under contract for the AIM, the Rev John Flynn, the famous Flying Doctor, renamed it ‘Victory’.
The aircraft was used for general aviation until 1928 when it was refurbished for use as the first air ambulance for the Australian Inland Mission (AIM) – as can be seen by the small Maltese Cross under the pilot’s cockpit. Upon starting service under contract for the AIM, The Rev John Flynn, the famous Flying Doctor, renamed it ‘Victory’.
The Royal Flying doctor history
In 1917, John Flynn received an inspirational letter from Lieutenant Clifford Peel, a Victorian medical student with an interest in aviation. The young airman and war hero suggested the use of aviation to bring medical help to the Outback. Shot down in France, he died at just 24 years of age and never knew that his letter became a blueprint for the creation of the Flying Doctor Service.
For the next ten years, Flynn campaigned for an aerial medical service. His vision was to provide a ‘mantle of safety’ for the people of the bush, and his vision became a reality when his long time supporter, H V McKay, left a large bequest for ‘an aerial experiment’ which enabled Flynn to get the Flying Doctor Service airborne.
At this time, Flynn also met Hudson Fysh, a founder of QANTAS. In 1927, QANTAS and the Aerial Medical Service signed an agreement to operate an aerial ambulance from Cloncurry, Queensland.
When the first pilot took off from Cloncurry on 17 May 1928, he was flying a single engine, timber and fabric bi-plane named ‘Victory’ (leased by QANTAS for two shillings per mile flown). He had with him the very first of our flying doctors, Dr Kenyon St Vincent Welch.
This DeHavilland could carry a pilot and four passengers at a cruising speed of eighty miles per hour for a range of 500 to 600 miles. In those days, not much territory was charted, and so pilots were forced to navigate by river beds, fences, telegraph lines and other familiar landmarks. Despite these obstacles, in its inaugural year, the Aerial Medical Service (which changed its name to the Flying Doctor Service in 1942 and the Royal Flying Doctor Service in 1955) flew 50 flights to 26 destinations and treated 225 patients. Flynn’s dream had become a reality.
VH-UER on Australia’s $20 note >
People involved with this aircraft VH-UER
John Flynn (1880 – 1951) Presbyterian minister
Hugh Victor (HV) McKay (1865 – 1926) manufacturer
John Clifford Peel (1894 – 1918) aviator, visionary https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/john-clifford-peel/
J Atcheson Spalding ( – 1970) flying doctor
Kenyon St. Vincent Welch (1884 – 1942) first flying doctor
Fenton, Clyde Cornwall (1901–1982) Australian Dictionary of Biography
Christian aviation organisations
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