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Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia

Last modified: 2016-02-27 by ian macdonald
Keywords: flying doctor |
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[Royal Flying Doctor Service flag]  image by Clay Moss, 22 May 2014

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The image above is a based on a small hand flag picked up on eBay. I doubt the writing is on the "full size" flags.
Clayton Horner, 14 April 2014

This design was definitely used on RFDS aircraft as a tail fin insignia: see
Miles Li, 16 April 2014

The full flag "in the cloth" can be seen at, where it hangs in Flynn and Vickers Museum in Cloncurry, Queensland.
David Prothero, 17 April 2014

I note that the flag bears the pale blue Maltese cross of Queensland in the centre of the device and wonder if there were similar flags for other states.
Peter Johnson, 22 April 2014

I asked my cousin whether she saw this flag used while she was working for the Queensland section (within the last 8 years), and she said she hadn't seen it at all.

Obviously we wouldn't assume that this sort of flag ever saw a huge amount of use, but this clearly uses a logo from before the redesign in 1993 (see, and the use of section-specific logos would have been more likely then, as the redesign was aimed at establishing a national identity, and since then the sections are usually simply indicated in text beneath the logo.

I note also that while the centre of this Queensland logo is the normal state badge, the fact that it includes Maltese cross means it is similar to the centrepiece of the earliest AAMS/FDSA logos, where such a cross was used to signify medicine (commonly used, at least in this part of the world, by ambulance/first aid institutions). This symbolism was replaced in the 1945 logo by the caduceus, but it still seems to me that the Queensland section may have been more likely to use their state badge in this way than other states would be.

On the general topic of flags for the RFDS, these days they seem to use the 2009 version of the logo (including name and motto "The
furthest corner. The finest care.") on a plain background. There is a photo at showing it on white on blue.

The logo itself now includes a red map of Australia in a central seal section, flanked by two blue wings and in front of a blue three-bladed propeller, representing aviation, and a blue caduceus representing medicine. The pre-1993 version included zigzags representing radio and more detail in the seal, namely the name of the organisation and dots marking bases on the map.
Jonathan Dixon, 23 April 2014

I contacted the reception of the Queensland Section of the RFDS, and Ms Regene Searle, long term employee and now volunteer with RFDS Qld Section, very thoroughly provided us with the following text and document:

The flag was designed by Dr Alf Grant who was a member of the Queensland Section's Council at the time (now referred to as a Board). The design was adopted in 1959. The RFDS logo changed in 1993, so the flag, although not obsolete is no longer used.

The Australian Council of the RFDS has a flag, there is no record of the commencement date, but it was later than 1967.

An Explanation of the Design of the Official Flag of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Queensland Section)

The Flag adopted by the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Queensland Section) is designed to emphasise certain aspects of the Service.

  1.  It is Australian in general form - i.e., it has the Union flag in the upper hoist quadrant with the Southern Cross in the fly. This represents that the concept of a Flying Doctor Service (the brainchild of the Very Rev. Dr. John Flynn, O.B.E., of the Australian Inland Mission) was an entirely Australian enterprise.
  2. The field is of white indicating the peaceful nature of the Service and its mission of mercy.
  3. The Blue Cross follows that of the Civil Aviation Department indicating that this Service is civil and not military in nature.
  4. The sky blue of the Cross suggests that the medium of our activities is the open sky.
  5. The stars are gold with a crimson border. The gold represents service, and the crimson medicine.
  6. In the lower fly quadrant is the badge of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (indicating the union of medicine, aviation and wireless) with the Queensland insignia (the crowned Maltese cross) substituted for the map of Australia - to show that this flag is that of the Queensland section. (By varying the inset it can be used, if desired, by the Federal Council or by any other section).
The rules and general form of the flag were approved by the Council of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Queensland Section) on the 20th August, 1959. It was also copyrighted, and proclaimed by the Governor of Queensland, and a facsimile lodged with the College of Heralds, and various other Departments.
Regarding the question of whether each section would have had such a flag: The Queensland section did not have information on other RFDS Section's flags. However, the explanation shows the flag was indeed intended to be used by other section, by varying the inset, so other such flags may have existed.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 19 June 2014