What do air ambulances, pedal-powered wireless sets, and camels
have in common?
Well, all three were utilized by the Rev. John Flynn to improve
the spiritual lives and health of the people living in the vast thinly
populated areas of Australia.
Born in 1880 in a remote gold rush area of Australia, about 200
kilometers northwest of Melbourne, Flynn, who was ordained as a
Presbyterian minister in 1911, recognized and had an appreciation for
the needs of people in the Outback.
After making a study of those needs in 1912, he eagerly chose to
embrace new technologies and innovations to accelerate the development
of his vision.
In 1917, the Rev. Flynn was considering the use of aircraft and
wireless radios to connect the scattered places of human habitation
and began raising funds to that end.
Finally in 1928, the first flight of the Aerial Medical Service
occurred, using a leased aircraft from QANTAS named appropriately
With the cooperation of both his church and interested
politicians, the air ambulance service went national in 1934 under the
name of the Australian Aerial Medical Service, gradually becoming a
nationwide network of bases.
Flynn remained the service’s public face and a principal
fundraiser throughout his life.
Today, the service remains, known as the Royal Flying Doctor
Service of Australia.
Radio also played an important part in communication and here too,
the Rev. Flynn was involved. He collaborated with Alfred Traeger in
1929 to begin the installation of pedal-powered wireless sets at the
medical bases, eventually creating what was a modern communications network.
Never shy about trying the unusual and unconventional, the Rev.
Flynn even purchased five camels in 1913 for his “Patrol Padres,” who
undertook mission work throughout central Australia.
Flynn passed away in 1951 and is today remembered as a true
Australian pioneer who improved the lot of many isolated Australian
communities through his extensive efforts.
The note itself is readily available at a reasonable price and is
one of Australia’s series of colorful notes printed on a long-lasting
polymer (“plastic”) substrate.
It’s a great note with a great story!
Wendell Wolka has been a paper money collector and educator for
more than 40 years. If you have questions or suggestions, you can
reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.