THROWBACK: RFDS founder Reverend John Flynn prepares the fleet for action.
THROWBACK: RFDS founder Reverend John Flynn prepares the fleet for action.

RFDS pilgrimage to touch down in Roma

THE Royal Flying Doctor Service is planning something special this year, in celebration of its 90th year of operation.

Today 25 antique planes from the Antique Aeroplane Association of Australia will take to the skies on a nine-day pilgrimage across rural NSW and Queensland.

Starting in Dubbo and moving on to Moree, Roma, Charleville, Winton, Longreach, Cloncurry, Julia Creek and then finally Mount Isa, this journey is a celebration of the communities that are serviced by the Flying Doctor.

The planes are due to touch down in Roma tomorrow, departing on Friday morning. The planes are expected to land at 10.30am-12pm at the Roma airport and there will be a public viewing from 2pm-3pm.

The trip will include many events with local community associations such as the Country Women's Association, Rotary, Lions groups and the local aero clubs.

Councils have been very supportive and schools, along with the general public, have all been invited to come and see the planes as they touch down.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has come a long way in 90 years. From a single leased Qantas plane in 1928, today there is a fleet of 69planes, 115 road service vehicles and 1400 professionals delivering emergency medical and primary health services across the country.

The milestone of 90 years is an opportunity to acknowledge that the need for health services in country Australia is just as real today as it was when Reverend John Flynn first set out in the 1920s.

The disparity in health outcomes between bush and city still exists. Country Australians see the doctor at half the rate, the dentist at one-third the rate and mental health specialists at one-fifth the rate of city people.

The Flying Doctor works to improve disparities in health outcomes for those in the bush. The purpose of all 90th year activities is to thank communities.

For more information visit www.flyingdoctor.org.au/ events/90th-pilgrimage/.