Flying Doctor Operations - c.1950s

Curious station families queue up to look over the Anglican Bush Church Aid Society's Percival Proctor VH-BQR (c/n K.392) at Billa Kalina Station, SA, in 1956. Billa Kalina is situated in central South Australia, north of Ceduna where the Proctor was based on aerial medical work.

This aircraft was built in 1940 at Luton by Percival Aircraft Ltd. for an RAF order for 50 Percival P.30 Proctor Mk IIs and allocated the serial Z7203. It was modified during RAF service to Mk III standard.

On 21 May 1949 the aircraft was added to the UK Register as G-ALIS, owned by S J Bartlam, Birmingham.

In February 1952 the aircraft was sold to Australian Aviation Investments Pty Ltd of Sydney and shipped to Australia. The aircraft was noted at London/Croydon prior to departure wearing the marks VH-BQR, however formal application for Australian registration was not made until 11 Sep. The aircraft was assembled at Bankstown, NSW, and made its first flight in Australia there on 15 Nov 1952. It was not formally added to the Register as VH-BQR until 26 November.

In May 1953 the aircraft was sold to John P. Conley of Broken Hill, and later Sydney. On 4 December 1953 it was sold again, to the Bush Church Aid Society of Australia and Tasmania, Diocesan Church House, George St, Sydney. The BCAS traded Fox Moth VH-GAS to Australian Aircraft Sales (Conley's operating name) on the Proctor.

On 12 Dec VH-BQR ferried Bankstown-Parkes-Ivanhoe-Broken Hill-Parafield, arriving there the following day. It was subsequently based at Ceduna with BCAS doing emergency flying and carrying the doctor to regular clinics at Coorabie, Kingoonya, Coober Pedy and Mulgathing. The aircraft's logs show regular trips to hospitals and clinics, as well as flights to Woomera, Whyalla, Nullarbor, Lake Everard and other remote settlements.

The pilot was Allan Chadwick, and later also Macarthur Job. Chadwick, also a licensed engineer, serviced the aircraft with major maintenance being done at Parafield by Aviation Services (SA) Ltd. No modifications were made for the aircraft to carry a stretcher.

In 1957 the BCAS purchased Lockheed 12A VH-BHH and from that time on use of the Proctor declined. In January 1958 Chadwick wrote to DCA advising that the Proctor was now only used for emergency work. On 7 Feb 1959 Proctor VH-BQR was ferried Ceduna-Parafield for storage pending sale, having flown a total of 721 hrs whilst with BCAS.

Following sale the aircraft moved to Western Australia where it flew until 1962 when an inspection revealed major deterioration in the woodwork. The aircraft was then stored in the open under cover until 1972 when it was donated to the Air Force Association (WA Division). The aircraft was restored to static display condition and currently (c.2003) resides in the RAAF Association Aviation Museum, Bull Creek, Perth, painted in RAF camouflage.

(Photos: Macarthur Job collection)

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