Simulator to take flight at Pageant

COME ABOARD: Whyalla Royal Flying Doctor Service Support Group Treasurer Rene Gillis with the aeromedical simulator.
COME ABOARD: Whyalla Royal Flying Doctor Service Support Group Treasurer Rene Gillis with the aeromedical simulator.

An aeromedical simulator of a Flying Doctor aircraft will return as a major attraction at the re-scheduled GFG Alliance Whyalla Christmas Pageant After Pageant Fair on Sunday.

Whyalla Royal Flying Doctor Service Support Group president Frank Curtis said a lot of work had gone on behind the scenes to enable the simulator to re-visit Whyalla following the washout of the original pageant.

The simulator – a life-sized replica of the fuselage of a Flying Doctor aircraft – will be fully equipped with stretchers and communications and medical equipment used by doctors, nurses and pilots of the RFDS.

It will be set up within Ada Ryan Gardens offering the public an opportunity to “climb aboard” for a gold coin donation for a close look at the interior of a Flying Doctor aircraft often seen flying in and out of the Whyalla Airport.

Mr Curtis said the presence of the simulator at the After Pageant Fair was in addition to the group’s usual barbecue facility.

It had been several years since the simulator visited Whyalla and Mr Curtis believed the local group’s 10th anniversary was an ideal time for its return, in conjunction with the RFDS’s 90th anniversary nationally.

“The Support Group has raised more than $300,000 to help keep the Flying Doctor flying thanks to some fabulous on-going community support during our 10 years,” Mr Curtis said.

“We are finishing 2018 on a very busy note with current fundraising efforts on trend to exceed our latest annual contribution to the RFDS in August of around $23,000.”

Funds are raised by the Support Group through barbecues at community events and hardware stores, donation tins at various businesses, donations from groups and individuals, a badge day and raffles.

“While the importance of the RFDS to isolated outback communities is well known, the service is also of vital importance to Whyalla by providing essential aeromedical services to Adelaide,” Mr Curtis said.

Whyalla is the busiest SA regional airport for RFDS landings with around 550 urgent transfers between Whyalla and Adelaide each year for specialist and higher levels of care.

The RFDS relies on fundraising through auxiliary groups like Whyalla, corporate sponsorship and general donations to maintain its aircraft and to help keep its crews in the air. Each medically-equipped Pilatus PC-12 aircraft costs more than $7million.