On 20 November 1917, John Clifford Peel wrote a letter that would become the inspiration for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The 23-year-old from country Victoria was a young lieutenant in the Australian Flying Corps when he first wrote to the Reverend Dr John Flynn, who ran the famed Inland Mission across outback Australia, on 2 November.
“Cliff” Peel had been studying medicine at Melbourne University when he enlisted during the First World War and was an avid reader of Flynn’s work, The Inlander, which told of “Life on Australia’s Frontiers”.
Peel was training to become a pilot and had started thinking about how Flynn could use aeroplanes to transport his mission and help people in remote areas.
“I have taken unto myself wings like the bird, or at least entered the new world of aviation,” Peel wrote to Flynn. “I am becoming more and more convinced that the air is to provide many solutions to that exceedingly vexed aspect of inland life [transportation] … I would be only too glad to dot down a few of the wanderings of my mind on paper and send them to you.”