The Royal Flying Doctor Museum

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Address: 8-10 Stuart Terrace
Alice Springs
Northern Territory

Category: Attractions

The Royal Flying Doctor Museum, is located in the original Radio Station House, will satisfy the most curious of mind. You can discover what it’s like to be inside one of our aircraft and look inside a replica fuselage of a Pilatus PC12. Have a look at the wide variety of historic radios including a Traegar Pedal Radio and learn what it was like to communicate before telephones were invented. There is a large display of historic medical equipment that would have been used on the RFDS flights of the past. A range of model airplanes used by RFDS will take you through the different aircraft used through the decades.

In 1928, flying was still in its early days. The first Flying Doctor pilot, Arthur Affleck, had no navigational aids, no radio and only a compass and inadequate maps. He navigated by landmarks such as fences, rivers, riverbeds and telegraph lines and flew in an open cockpit, fully exposed to the weather, behind the doctor’s cabin. Airstrips were, at the best claypans or at the worst, hastily cleared paddocks. Flights were normally made during daylight hours although night flights were attempted in cases of extreme urgency. Fuel supplies were also carried on flights until fuel dumps were established at strategic outstations.

The Service initially used contractors to provide aircraft, pilots and servicing. In the 1960’s the RFDS progressively began to purchase aircraft and employ their own pilots and engineers.

Although the aircraft are guided by satellite navigation systems, landings must often be made in difficult circumstances such as on remote dirt airstrips, lit at night by kerosene flares or car headlights. In extreme emergencies, landings may be made on suitable stretches of road on remote highways.

As when the Service first began, the pilots continue to be responsible for determining if a flight can be safely undertaken in the prevailing weather conditions.