Composed and shared by Ceduna Old Photos, Sue Trewartha and Erica Bodger.
Sister Dowling, Allan Chadwick pilot, Dr Roy Gibson, Canon Tom Jones. De Havilland Fox Moth VH-AAA.
The building of the Bishop Kirkby Memorial Hospital at Cook in 1937 meant that a comfortable and speedy means of transport was needed and thus the FMS was born when the first aircraft, a “little De Havilland Fox Moth VH-AAA, flown to Ceduna from Mascot Airport with the aid of a motorist’s road map” was purchased late in 1937, arriving in Ceduna on 30 March 1938.
Mr Chadwick’s only maps to start with were in a school atlas! The Fox Moth was a small wooden biplane covered with fabric, with petrol carried in a 20 gallon tank in the middle of the upper wing piped to the engine by gravity. The open cockpit behind the cabin had a speaking tube between the two compartments to enable passengers and pilot to talk. Mr Chadwick said that he circled the hospital and town, flew back to the airport and was soon greeted by his wife and every member of the staff that could be spared to leave the hospital. Sister F Dowling, writing for the Real Australian in June 1959, to celebrate 21 years of the FMS, said “Somehow it doesn’t seem as long as that since a group of us waited at the aerodrome for the arrival of Mr Chadwick in the Fox Moth. I well remember standing alongside of Organising Missioner Right Reverend Tom Jones as the Fox Moth was landing, our feeling were stirred, for our hearts were full. We were very conscious of the fact that in the arrival of the little aeroplane, many, many prayers had been answered. Our hearts were full, full of praise to Him for what He had done.” In the first year they flew 18,000 miles with three landing grounds and three outside consultation centres and by 1959, 35,000 miles each year utilising 30 landing grounds and nine outside consultation centres. Around 160 flights were made each year.
This is the arrival of the first Flying Doctor plane piloted by Allan Chadwick, on 30 March 1938. Known people in photo are:
l to r: Dr Roy Gibson, Canon Tom Jones, Sr F Dowling, Dr Freda Gibson, tall man back, Rev Broadley, lady with baby in front, Mrs Broadley and John, on the right end, Rev George Woolf and wife. Thanks goes to John Broadley, son of Rev Broadley, for helping identify these people and what the occasion was.