Flying Doctor Operations - c.1950s

War-surplus De Havilland DH84 Dragon VH-AGI being loaded one early morning at Ceduna, SA, in about 1955 for a patient transfer flight to Adelaide. At left is the nursing Sister from the Ceduna Bush Hospital, with a thermos of tea in her bag for the journey. Lifting the stretcher at left is Allan Chadwick, Chief Pilot of the Bush Church Aid Society (BCAS) which operated the Flying Doctor service in South Australia during the 1950s.

Chadwick later became an MBE and Oswald Watt Gold Medallist for his work with the Flying Doctor service. In the dark jumper is the Dragon's pilot, Macarthur Job, who also went on to a long and distinguished career in air safety and an OAM.


Another view of De Havilland DH84 Dragon VH-AGI, this time at Lake Everard Station in the Gawler Ranges, c.1954.

This aircraft (c/n 2017) was manufactured at Sydney/Mascot by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd to an RAAF order. It was allocated the military serial A34-28 and had its maiden flight on 7 November 1942. It was taken on strength by the RAAF on 2 December 1942 and, following war service, was struck off RAAF strength on 29 September 1945 and transferred to the Commonwealth Disposal Commission.

The aircraft was purchased by the Bush Church Aid Society of Australia & Tasmania, Sydney, and an application for civil registration lodged with DCA on 9 October 1945. However, it was not until 15 March 1946 that the aircraft was added to the civil Register as VH-AGI. The aircraft was operated on ambulance and clinic work by BCAS from its Ceduna, SA, base between 1946 and 1958, supplemented by Percival Proctor VH-BQR from 1953. BCAS also operated Bush Hospitals at Ceduna and Tarcoola.

VH-AGI was replaced in 1958 by Lockheed 12A VH-BHH (later VH-FMS). By June 1959 it had been sold to Lombard (Australia) Pty Ltd of Sydney. The next year it was bought by South Eastern Air Transport of Merimbula, NSW, where it was re-united with its former Flying Doctor pilot, Macarthur Job. It was operated on the NSW south coast until 1 October 1961 when it was damaged beyond repair in a forced landing at Bateman’s Bay, NSW. It was struck off the Register in January 1962.

(Photos: Macarthur Job collection)

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Read about the Flying Doctor service in the 1950s and the origin of 'Mercy Flights'

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