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17 May 1928 John Flynn and the Flying Doctor

 17 May 1928   John Flynn and the Flying Doctor

On 17 May 1928 Dr St Vincent, with pilot Affleck at the controls, answered the first call received by the Australian Inland Mission, and the Flying Doctor was a reality.

In 1911 John Flynn, a Presbyterian Minister, was posted to the Smith of Dunesk Mission at Beltana in the north of South Australia. It was from this centre that he began his great work for the people of the inland. He made many journeys through outback South Australia to preach to all kinds of people in this desert region.

In December 1911 he helped to establish a nursing hostel at Oodnadatta and in 1912 he was appointed superintendent of the Australian Inland Mission which began with one padre, one nursing sister, a nursing hostel and five camels. He spread his caring missions through northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland where, in 1928, he established the Aerial Medical Services at Cloncurry. For this to be successful he needed to have suitable radio transmissions and, after much trial and error, George Towns and Alf Traeger were able to develop a transmitter which could cover the great distances of the inland.

On 7 May 1932, at the age of 51, Flynn married his secretary Jean Baird. In 1939 he was elected for a three year term as Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He died in Sydney on 5 May 1951 and is fondly remembered as 'Flynn of the Inland'.

Bede Nairn, Geoffrey Serle (eds), Australian Dictionary of Biography,  Volume 8, pp. 531-534.

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