|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (02/05/2009)|
|Place File No||4/08/208/0003|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
The Queensland and Northern
Territory Aerial Services Ltd (QANTAS) hangar is significant as one of the
earliest sites of civil aviation activity in Australia. It is the place where Australia's
airline, QANTAS, commenced operations and grew from its humble beginnings in
the galvanised iron hangar to be a successful international air carrier.
The place is also important for its association with the commencement of the Aerial Medical Service (the 'Flying Doctor' service), which was founded by the Reverend John Flynn in 1928. Following discussions with Hudson Fysh and Paul J McGinness, QANTAS supplied the first aircraft for the Aerial Medical Service and provided it with logistical support from the hangar at its Longreach base.
In addition, the QANTAS hangar at Longreach is nationally significant for its association with the early work of Hudson Fysh, Paul J McGinness and Fergus McMaster, the central figures in the formation of QANTAS, and Arthur Baird, whose engineering skills were devoted to making the airline a success.
The QANTAS hangar is located at the
Longreach aerodrome, on the western side of the complex and is a large,
freestanding structure which forms a dominant landmark in the area. The hangar
comprises a large open space, or hangarage, with
annexes on either side and at the rear. The hangarage
has a light frame of tubular steel, and comprises a series of trusses
supporting a gable roof with a ventilated ridge. Where the roof has been
extended over the side annexes the roof trusses are only supported by columns. The
walls and roof of the hangarage and annexes are clad
in galvanised corrugated iron and openings are cut in the walls in some areas
to allow light to enter the interior. Windows in the form of corrugated iron
flaps, hinged at the top are located down each side and at the rear of the
annexes. The gable at each end of the hangar is also sheeted with corrugated
iron and painted with the words QANTAS LTD on the northern (front) end and
QANTAS LTD AIR SERVICES on the southern (rear) end. At each side of the front
elevation are new steel frames which support the recently constructed sliding
doors when opened. Internally, the hangarage has a
concrete floor, whilst the floors to the annexes are of timber boards. The
western annexe has been altered to accommodate offices and amenities associated
with the operation of the place as a museum.|
Longreach was gazetted a town in 1887. It served the sheep
and cattle based pastoral industry that had grown from the 1860s onward. The
extension of the railway line to Longreach in 1892, which by then had
population of around 150, acted as a catalyst to development of the district.
By 1933 Longreach had a population of 3 274 (Moffat 1987:290).|
Queensland's vast size influenced both its rate of development and its pattern of development. Establishing transport links was important for the state's economic development. Away from the major towns roads were virtually non-existent. Only rough bush tracks existed and all communication was via the railways and coastal shipping services. While the western Queensland towns were served by the railways east to the coast, there were no north-south links. The cost of coastal shipping was relatively cheap hence railways were built into the interior from the coastal ports which were linked to Brisbane by coastal shipping services. Railways gradually crept westward across the state. In 1886 a line was opened from Rockhampton to Barcaldine and extended to Longreach in 1892. The line west from Brisbane reached Charleville in 1888 and Winton in 1899, but Longreach and Winton were not joined by rail until 1928. By 1903 Queensland had seven disparate railway systems
The first powered flight in Australia occurred in December 1909 when Colin Defries flew some 270m in a Wright biplane. It was the First World War, however, that brought a new impetus to Australian aviation. In the years preceding the war there had been calls for the formation of an Australian Flying Corp which came to fruition on 22 October 1912 with the promulgation of Military Order No 570. A Central Flying School was established at Point Cook (Vic) in 1913 with the first flying training course commencing in August 1914. It was the Flying Corp pilots who survived the war who were to form the nucleus of civil aviation in its formative decade of the 1920s. It was the closing chapter of the war that set in train the events that lead to the founding of QANTAS. Having ended the war in such style a number of the young pilots felt it was only proper they should fly home. Not only had this never been done, there was no fully surveyed air route from England to Australia. Concerned at the prospect of Australia's young war heroes attempting such a venture and to bring the situation under control, Prime Minister Hughes announced in March 1919, a prize of £10 000 for the first Australian to fly a British aircraft from England to Australia in 30 days before the year's end. Eventually seven aircraft took part in the 1919 England to Australia Air Race. Only two aircraft completed the race to which strict conditions were attached.
Just before parting company on their return to Australia from World War One, Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh, two young Australian Flying Corps airmen who had flown together in the Middle East heard about the £10 000 prize being offered by the government. McGinness was keen to pursue this newly afforded opportunity. Fysh had been McGinness’s observer during the war, and towards the war’s end Fysh himself underwent pilot training. He was one of the last pilots to be trained during the war, and completed his flying training after the war had ended. Fysh graduated as a scout pilot on 28 February 1919 with a total of 34 hours 50 minutes solo flying.
Raising capital to enter the air race was a major problem until McGinness reminded Fysh of the 'McCaughey' battle plane they had flown in Palestine. The aircraft was a Bristol fighter that the wealthy Yanco grazier and philanthropist, Sir Samuel McCaughey had presented to No 1 Squadron. McGinness travelled to Yanco successfully gaining Sir Samuel’s financial support to enter the air race. However, Sir Samuel McCaughey died unexpectedly and his executors refused to honour the undertaking that Sir Samuel had given in writing.
About this time, the Chief of General Staff, Major General James Legge was given the task of choosing and establishing an air route across Australia for the race competitors. He offered the job of surveying and establishing the air route between Longreach in Queensland and Darwin in the Northern Territory to McGinness and Fysh. Disappointed at not being able to participate in the race, the airmen accepted the appointment with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. They were seconded back into the Defence Department on special duties. Commencing the survey from Longreach they travelled north using a T-model Ford, their aim being to follow their orders and survey an air route along the southern edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was to be a demanding journey with the vehicle frequently getting bogged and breaking down. There were no roads as such and no vehicle had ever transited the area, which was low, sandy, and crossed by many rivers and creeks. From Longreach they set off for Cloncurry on 18 August 1919. They were struck by the natural advantages which favoured the establishment of an air service in the district, where the railheads of Charleville, Longreach, Winton and Cloncurry were unconnected. The idea of a north-south aviation service across the black soil plains linking these towns appealed to the aviators. Fysh later speculated that 'perhaps the reason the people of Western Queensland rallied round and made possible the formation of QANTAS was mud – 'sticky Western mud' (Fysh 1965:98). The black soil plains of western Queensland become impassable when wet as the black soil forms a very sticky mud. The long summer rains left properties isolated and the only means of transport was rail.
From Darwin, McGinness was instructed to return to Cloncurry by car, choosing and establishing landing grounds as he progressed, while Fysh was to remain in Darwin and select and prepare landing grounds in Darwin and Katherine for the air race participants. Fysh remained in Darwin to meet the air race participants, greeting the winners Ross and Keith Smith on their arrival at Fannie Bay, Darwin on 10 December 1919 (Fysh 1965:87).
McGinness and Fysh had been instrumental in establishing the air route across northern Australia. His duties in Darwin completed, Fysh joined a party travelling overland by vehicle to Cloncurry. It was to prove a fortuitous journey as they called into 'Bushby Park', the homestead of Alexander Kennedy, an old pioneer of western Queensland. Kennedy informed Fysh of the interest McGinness had aroused in the formation of an airline company and that he intended to back it. Kennedy did back the company as one of its founding shareholders who joined in the legal undertaking of a joint and several guarantee that enabled the company to obtain finance pending its first share issue.
On returning to Cloncurry, Fysh joined up with McGinness who had been working hard to raise interest in creating an aerial service in western Queensland. McGinness had by chance met local grazier Fergus McMaster when the latter's car had broken down at a crossing on the Cloncurry River. McGinness had set about repairing the car and told McMaster of his idea for starting an aerial service. Fergus McMaster saw merit in the idea and some months later met with McGinness and Fysh in Brisbane. The young airmen set out their plans for the air service and sought financial support from McMaster which he readily gave. They initially called the company Western Queensland Auto Aerial Services Ltd but changed it to Australian Transcontinental Aerial Services Company Ltd, before settling on Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (Carroll 1980:52). An influential man, it was Fergus McMaster who obtained support for the new air service from a number of other influential people in the west including Ainslie Templeton of 'Acacia Downs'. Over the coming years McMaster’s influential connections would prove extremely valuable to the infant airline. In Exhibition Week of August 1920, Fergus McMaster, Ainslie Templeton, Paul McGinness, Hudson Fysh and Alan Campbell of Queensland Primary Producers who was present to give business advice, met at the Gresham Hotel in Brisbane to discuss the setting up of an aerial service. It resulted in the registering of a company, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd on 16 November 1920.
The principal investors in QANTAS were Templeton and McGinness £1 000 each, McMaster and Fysh £500 each. McGinness and Fysh shortly afterwards increased their stakes to £1 200 and £600 respectively. On 21 May 1921 the total capital subscribed was £6,850, of which the original four had put in £3,300. Dr Michod who was to become prominent on the Board in Longreach, put in £250. A professional Board having been agreed upon, and Alan Campbell appointed 'main secretary pro tem' in Brisbane, Fergus McMaster proceeded to draft and finalise the first prospectus, the main objectives of the new company being stated as:
1. To establish Aerial Passenger Mail and a general Air Transport Service linking the railway termini in Queensland and the Northern Territory at Port Darwin.
2. To develop and popularise aviation on a commercial basis (Fysh 1965:98).
On 11 November 1920, the Commonwealth Government passed the Air Navigation Act making provision for the regulation of civil aviation in Australia. The Act was gazetted on 11 February 1921 and came into effect on 28 March 1921. Under the Act, Regulations were drawn up to provide for the registration and periodic inspection of aircraft, licensing of aerodromes, examination and licensing of personnel engaged in flying and in the maintenance of aircraft, and rules of the air. It reflected the government’s increasing interest in civil aviation matters particular in response to the return of a large number of trained pilots and the importation of a number of aircraft after the First World War. Colonel Horace Brinstead as appointed the first Controller of Civil Aviation. The administration of civil aviation fell within the realm of the Defence Department and its Minister Sir George Pearce. A Civil Aviation Branch was formed within the Defence Department to administer the Act and Regulations. The organisation grew over time as its function and roles evolved. It underwent a number of name changes and in 1938 the Government created a separate Department of Civil Aviation.
McGinness and Fysh proceeded to Sydney and were joined by their wartime mechanic Arthur Baird who had left his garage in Melbourne to join the new aerial service. Baird was to become instrumental in keeping QANTAS's aircraft airbourne. To counter the extreme heat of western Queensland in which the water cooled aero engines of the period frequently overheated, he fitted larger radiators to the aircraft and header tanks designed to condense steam and conserve water in the cooling system. Under Baird's direction the first commercial aircraft to be built in Australia, de Havilland DH50s, were constructed at QANTAS's Longreach workshop between 1926 and 1929.
In Sydney they met with Nigel Love, the Head of the Australian Aircraft and Engineer Company, which was the first company to start aircraft construction in Australia. Based at Mascot the company erected Sydney's first hangar and used the tidal flats for an aerodrome. The site evolved into Sydney's current aerodrome, Kingsford Smith Airport. Taking delivery of an Avro Dyak (504K) aircraft McGinness and Fysh departed Mascot for Longreach on 21 January 1921. While in Sydney and preparing to take delivery of the aircraft, they had been approached by a Longreach stock and station agent, Charles Knight who had purchased a BE2E aircraft and asked them to fly it back to Longreach and pilot it for him there. Consequently, it was with two aircraft and a paying passenger that the aviators left Sydney on 21 January with McGinness flying the Avro Dyak with Charles Knight aboard and Fysh flying the BE2E with their mechanic Arthur Baird as his passenger. They arrived at Charleville on 5 February 1921 (Fysh 1965:103).
Departing Charleville the next day, 6 February they flew via Blackall to Barcaldine where they picked up Fergus McMaster and proceeded to Longreach. On the 7th they flew on to Winton, the first QANTAS headquarters, where they were greeted by a large crowd. They had flown the 1 200 miles from Sydney in 17 hours 30 minutes at an average speed of 68.5 miles per hour (Fysh 1965:104). The next day they flew back to Longreach and decided that Longreach was the best railhead town at which to base their operations. The return trip had been very rough and Fysh flying Charles Knight, had deviated from his route missing Longreach by 20 miles and had to follow the Thompson River into town. Knight was very sick on the flight and this ended his aviation aspirations. He sold the BE2E to QANTAS for £450, and QANTAS became a two aircraft aerial service with a third aircraft, an avro Triplane on order.
QANTAS’s first official board meeting was held in Winton on 10 February 1921 at the Winton Club with only formal business being transacted. It was the only meeting to be held in Winton as all activities were immediately transferred to Longreach. The first runway strips were laid at Longreach in 1924-5. They were simple unsealed gravel strips and were the first to be laid down anywhere in Australia. Of gravel laid on the natural black soil, they were 600 yards (548.6 m) long and 100 feet (30.5 m) wide (http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/LR%20aerodrome%201925.htm).
At QANTAS’s first annual general meeting held in Longreach on 21 May 1921, McMaster was able to announce that McGinness in the Avro had flown 7 400 miles, been in the air for 111 hours and carried 285 passengers for a gross return of £934. In the same period Fysh in the single passenger BE2E had flown 6 370 miles, been in the air 98 hours and carried 296 passengers for a gross return of £837. Also raised was the possibility of an ‘air coach service’ between Longreach and Winton, and of applying to the Commonwealth Government for a subsidy (Fysh 1965:107).
Through 1921 the McMaster, McGinness and Fysh lobbied hard for a regular subsidised airmail service for western Queensland. McGinness and McMaster went to Melbourne, which was then the seat of the federal government to raise interest in the new air service and the need for a subsidised airmail route. McGinness corresponded with the Hon A S Rodgers who was supportive of the idea and McMaster drew on his contacts with parliamentarians and was influential in garnering their support, in particularly that of his parliamentary friends A J A Hunter and Donald Cameron. Their lobbying paid off and tenders were eventually called for a subsidised airmail route between Charleville and Cloncurry. The federal government subsidy of four shillings per mile amounted to an annual subsidy of £12 000. Without a subsided route, keeping the company viable had been a continual struggle and to raise the necessary capital to buy new aircraft and position themselves for the tendering processing a second prospectus was drawn up calling for a proposed issue of 15,000 ordinary shares at £1 each. QANTAS was the successful tenderer in February 1922 despite strong opposition in the tender process from the Larkin Aircraft Supply Company and its associate Australian Aerial Services Ltd which had secured contracts for the Adelaide-Sydney route, which it did not begin operating until 2 June 1924 and the Sydney-Brisbane route, which never materialised (Fysh 1965:118).
In June 1922, QANTAS called for tenders for aircraft hangars to be constructed at Charleville, Longreach and Cloncurry. The tender was awarded to the Brisbane firm of Stewarts and Lloyds who offered a tubular steel and galvanised iron structure. The Longreach hangar which was completed in August 1922 was 120 feet by 60 feet and cost £1 636 (Fysh 1965:124). It was constructed on its present site some one and a half miles to the east of the town.
QANTAS conducted its first scheduled service on 2 November 1922. The 577 mile route from Charleville to Cloncurry was flown in two stages with an over-night stop in Longreach. Departures were scheduled for early morning to avoid the heat of the day when turbulence caused passenger air sickness and to get the best performance from the aircraft in the cool morning air. McGinness with Baird as his mechanic flew the inaugural service from Charleville to Longreach. The following day Fysh flew the second sector from Longreach to Cloncurry, again with Baird as engineer. On this sector they carried their first passenger on a scheduled service. It was 82 year old Alexander Kennedy, who had invested £250 in the airline on condition that he be their first passenger on a scheduled flight.
In 1930 QANTAS reached its first million miles flown and in that year also moved its headquarters to Brisbane with its flying operations being conducted from Archerfield aerodrome.
The Empire Airmail scheme was conceived in 1933, and aimed to carry all first class mail through the British Empire at a rate of one and a half pence per half ounce, with a charge of one penny for postcards. The scheme began on 28 June 1937, when the flying boat Centurion flew from Southampton to South Africa. The second stage, to India and Malaya, began in February 1938 and the third stage to Australia in July 1938. The Empire Air Mail scheme was intended to last for 15 years, but was halted by the war and formally ended on 31 March 1947 (http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/history/downloads/BPMA_Info_Sheet_Airmail_web.pdf).
QANTAS Empire Airways (QEA) was formed as a 50-50 joint holding by Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (QANTAS) and Britain’s Imperial Airways Ltd. The company was registered on 18 January 1934. It held a five year contract to operate de Havilland 86 (DH 86) aircraft between Brisbane and Singapore where the service linked into the Imperial Airway’s service to London. The DH86 was built expressly to the order of Imperial Airways and QANTAS. Its range was 764 miles, exactly designed to meet the Australian government specification of ‘600 miles against a 40 mph head wind’ which was of course intended to cover the Timor Sea crossing of 512 miles which at that time was the longest ocean crossing regularly flown by an airline in the world. The inaugural flights of the London-Brisbane air service were conducted from three places, Croydon Aerodrome, London on 8 December 1934, from Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane on 10 December and from Singapore on 16 December. The Duke of Gloucester who was visiting Australia presided over the opening of the service from Brisbane with the State Governor, Sir Leslie Wilson, and the Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons in attendance.
With the arrival of the Second World War, QANTAS took on new roles. QANTAS crews ferried Catalina flying boats from San Diego (US) to Australia for the Royal Australian Air Force. In November 1941, the RAAF established an Air Training Corps in Longreach, which trained 16-18 years olds for air or ground work. By the early months of 1942, 20 young men were reported to have joined the Longreach Corps (Moffat 1987:274).The company continued its north Australian operations and in October 1941 extended its QANTAS Empire Airways service beyond Singapore to Karachi. In December 1941 Japan entered the war and with the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, the flying boat service lost the use of its vital base. The flying boats were used in the evacuation of Singapore, Surabaya and Port Moresby. On 30 January 1942, QANTAS lost its first flying boats in the war, Corio which was attacked by Japanese fighters near Kupang.
During 1942 the flying boats were used to establish a shuttle between western Java and Broome evacuating civilian and military personnel. Land based aircraft were used in a variety of roles assisting the military, including a major re-supply operation of Buna and Gona in October 1942 following the success of Australian forces in pushing the Japanese back along the Kokoda Track. QANTAS aircraft ( two DH86s, a Lockheed 10A and two Lockheed Lodestars) along with military transports participated in the airlift of 3 millions pounds of supplies from Port Moresby across the Owen Stanley Ranges to Buna to keep the land forces re-supplied and earning the name 'the Bully Beef Bombers'. QANTAS aircraft also evacuated the township of Mt Hagen from behind enemy lines. As the war progressed the flying boats were utilised to carry personnel and supplies between Townsville and both Port Moresby and Milne Bay.
As the Second World War drew closer with the bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942 preparations for a Japanese invasion were made by the town's Volunteer Defence Corps.
Longreach became involved in the war with a decision to establish a United States Air Force base for B17 'Flying Fortresses' at Longreach Airport, which the Minister for Air described as being 'developed as a war operational requirement for the ferrying of US aircraft across Australia, whilst also providing an airstrip which would permit fighters and two engine aircraft to make safe emergency landings' (Moffat 1987:276). Longreach aerodrome’s importance as an airfield during the war lay in its position on the ferry route between the south-east of Australia and Darwin. Its inland position ensured the aircraft were well away from the reach of enemy aircraft. The American base in Longreach was established in May 1942 where it remained until 24 July 1942 (Moffat 1987:276). The men stationed in Longreach belonged to the 93rd Bombardment Squadron and a portion of the 28th Squadron (Flight B), the full compliment being 28th Bombardment Squadron (Flight B) 21 officers, 69 airmen and 93rd Bombardment Squadron 55 officers, and 216 airmen. Following the Battle of the Coral Sea the strategic position improved and by late May 1942 Allied units could be moved closer to the coast. On leaving Longreach the US Air Force units were restationed in Mareeba, became the 19th Bombardment Group and continued to take part in the Pacific campaign (Moffat 1987:276).
While the runways had been ample to cater for the needs of commercial and private aircraft, they were not suitable for the B-17s. The pre-war runways were bulldozered by the United States Air Force and the landing facilities upgraded. This included extending the main south-west to north-east runway from just over 1,900 feet to over 8,000 feet and widening it to accommodate the B17 aircraft. Of this upgrade, the Commonwealth Minister of Air wrote:
‘These (pre-war) runways were not in very good condition and were badly located for extension....... In June 1943 after a visit by a RAAF Works Officer it was reported that two good runways had been built on the site of the Civil Aerodrome, the measurements being 8 000 feet by 100 feet by 150 feet.’ (quoted in Moffat 1987:276). Only the original QANTAS hangar was retained as a passenger and airmail terminal.
The need to re-establish a wartime air link to Britain saw the introduction in 1943 of a Catalina flying boat service to Ceylon, with connections through to England.
After the war, Prime Minister Chifley's Airlines Bill was passed on 30 July 1945 paving the way for the Commonwealth government to take over QANTAS. The government bought out British Overseas Airways Corporation's (BOAC, formerly Imperial Airways) share in QEA and then also bought out the QANTAS shareholding. In 1947 the government bought all the remaining privately owned shares in QANTAS itself, making it a fully owned public company with Hudson Fysh as its new Chairman.
With the introduction of the Lockheed Constellations (L749) on the 'Kangaroo Route' between London and Australia on 1 December 1947, QANTAS was able to carry 38 passengers on each flight. In March 1954 QANTAS took delivery of its first Super Constellations (L1049) which moved it into a new era of aviation. The use of pressurised passenger aircraft made the Kangaroo Route to Europe an enjoyable experience. Between September 1952 and October 1955 QANTAS also operated a Wallaby service to Johannesburg. In the 1957-58 financial year QANTAS carried 160,000 passengers (Allen 1996:16). On 15 May 1954, QANTAS operated its first Sydney – San Francisco service having taken over the route from British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines whose staff transferred to QANTAS.
QANTAS entered the jet age on 29 July 1959 with the commencement of its first B707 service. The B707s with their significantly increased passenger capacity gradually replaced the Super Constellations with the last one being withdrawn from service in May 1963. QANTAS's passenger numbers in 1960 were 186,000, by 1965 they had reached 359,000 and by 1970 risen to 683,000 (Allen 1996:16). By the mid 1960s QANTAS's annual passenger load had doubled from its pre 707 days and it became apparent an even larger aircraft would be required to meet passenger numbers. Studies conducted by QANTAS indicated that a fleet of aircraft equal to the capacity of 90 B707s would be needed by 1980 and in November 1967 QANTAS took a decision to order four B747 aircraft at a cost of $A21m each. QANTAS entered the wide-bodied jet age when its first B747 landed in Sydney on 16 August 1971 opening a new chapter in the company's history. QANTAS's passenger numbers grew rapidly from 790,000 in 1971 to 921,000 in 1973, 1,416,000 in 1975, 1,975,000 in 1980, 2,500,000 in 1985, and by 1987 they had reached 3,021,000 (Allen 1996:16).
During the evacuation of Darwin in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy, QANTAS set a record for the number of passengers carried on a B747, when on 29 December 1974 VH-EBB departed Darwin with 674 passengers and 23 crew. The passenger load comprised 306 adults, 328 children and 40 babies. They were all accommodated by asking the uninjured to nurse children and babies (Allen 1996:16).
The federal government formed the domestic carrier, Trans Australia Airlines (later named Australian Airlines) in 1946. It had taken over QANTAS's Queensland and Northern Territory networks along with the Flying Doctor Service in 1949 and QANTAS's internal services in New Guinea in 1960. As part of the deregulation of the Australian airline passenger market in the late 1980s, Australian Airlines was incorporated as a public company in 1988 and the government then facilitated a QANTAS buyout of Australian Airlines in 1992 (Allen 1996:17). Australian Airlines was merged with QANTAS as a fully privatised airline under the QANTAS name in 1993 from which time QANTAS operated both domestic and international services. In the 1994-95 financial year the company carried a combined total of 14,422,000 domestic and international passengers (Allen 1996:17).
Regarded as one of the top international airlines, QANTAS has been named in the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards having held the number two ranking in both 2005 and 2006. A company with a $13.6 billion revenue, QANTAS made a net profit of $479.5 million in the 2005/06 financial year and carried over 32 million passengers (QANTAS Annual Report 2006:3-5). From humble beginnings on Longreach aerodrome in a galvanised iron hangar and flying flimsy aircraft QANTAS has grown to be one of the leading international airlines.
Royal Flying Doctor Service
While in Sydney in 1921 Fysh and McGinness met the Reverend John Flynn and had many discussion with him about the practicability of establishing a flying-doctor service. The aviators had to advise him that as yet, no suitable aircraft that would meet his requirements had been produced. QANTAS and the Rev Flynn's flying doctor plans would come together again later in the decade at Cloncurry.
Founded on 15 May 1928, the Aerial Medical Service was the result of many years of planning by John Flynn, who became known as 'Flynn of the Inland' for his untiring dedication to the people of inland Australia. In 1911 on taking up his first appointment at the Beltana Mission in the north of South Australia, Flynn became close to the people of the inland learning first hand of the isolation and privations they suffered, in particularly, the lack of medical services. In 1912 he was appointed the first Superintendent of the Presbyterian Church’s Australian Inland Mission (AIM). At this time only two doctors served an area of some 300,000 sq kms in Western Australia and 1,500,000 sq kms in the Northern Territory (www.flyingdoctor.net/history). The remoteness of the inland resulted in many people dying before medical treatment could reach them. Flynn sought not only to serve the spiritual needs of the people of the inland but also their medical and social needs. The isolation of the inland not only deprived them of medical care but also of contact with others.
With the development of aviation and of radio communications Flynn saw the possibilities of employing these new technologies in the inland. Flynn held the vision of a network of flying doctors that would be a 'Mantle of Safety' for the people of the inland and set about raising the necessary funds to establish a flying doctor service. Among his supporters were the industrialist H V Mackay, manufacturer of the Sunshine Harvester, Hudson Fysh of QANTAS and Melbourne medical practitioner, Dr George Simpson. In 1928 the flying doctor became a reality with the founding of the Aerial Medical Service at Cloncurry. Cloncurry was chosen as the first flying doctor base as it was one of the few inland towns with a doctor and a hospital, which had opened in 1879. QANTAS was contracted to supply an aircraft based at Cloncurry to operate medical flights. The aircraft was drawn from QANTAS's Longreach based fleet and operational support was provided from Longreach. In its first year of operations the Aerial Medical Service flew 17 479 miles (Fysh 1965:207). QANTAS continued providing the aviation component of the flying doctor service until 1947 when the role was transferred to Trans Australia Airlines.
With the completion of the Longreach Base Hospital a flying dental service was established in 1945 utilising Longreach airport. Plans were also mooted for the establishment of a Flying Ambulance Centre but these were abandoned as it would have been too costly a service to inaugurate.
The Aerial Medical Service grew to become the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDSA), the major provider of medical services across rural Australia. From one plane at Cloncurry, the RFDSA has grown to the point where in the 2006 financial year its 50 planes flew 20,443,074 km over a service area of 7,150,000 sq km. It attended 273,143 patients in rural areas, and evacuated 34,143 of these to regional hospitals.
|Condition and Integrity|
The building is in a sound condition but has suffered fair
wear and tear over its 80 years of use.|
Landsborough Highway, 2km east of Longreach, comprising the whole of the Qantas Hangar
Museum, Longreach Aerodrome – 1925, captioned
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Report Produced Wed Dec 11 08:55:27 2013