Everyone knew him as the camel man.
This was rather ironic because he was not very fond of camels. It was nothing personal. Camels themselves were OK. It was just that they were very, very slow.
John Flynn was a minister of an Australian outback parish of some 3,200,000 square kilometres (approximately 1,236,000 square miles). It took John an awfully long time to get around his parish on a camel.
Worse than this, it took sick people in his parish a long time to get to a doctor. More often than not, injured people just never made it. A simple infection, a broken limb were enough to kill people.
This isolation affected John a lot, especially when children died because help was so far away. Over the eighteen years he looked after people in the outback, John Flynn formed a brilliant, outrageous idea.
John dreamed of the service where doctors could fly to assist people in need of urgent medical assistance.
It was a simple idea. It just wasn’t practical.
In the first place he had no money.
Secondly, he would have to find the doctors, nurses and a pilot prepared to live and work in outback Australia.
Most critically, he would have to invent a cheap way for outback stations to communicate with the flying doctor service. There was no point in having a doctor in Alice Springs if the people in Birdsville couldn’t contact him.
Telegraph and radio were available but the expense of providing these services to every outback station was prohibitive. There would be no flying doctors until there was a new way to communicate.
John Flynn was not deterred by problems. He seemed to thrive on them. He was a great believer in the philosophy that “whatever a person dares to do, that he can, if he thinks long enough, wills sincerely and works hard enough.”
John put his heart, soul and back into creating the world’s first flying doctor service. He talked to anyone who would listen about his plans. He spoke to individuals, he spoke to crowds.
A lot of people dismissed him as a dreamer, a fool with no hope of succeeding.
Some people did listen. One of those was Hudson Fysh, founder of Qantas. He leased a plane to John.
Hugh McKay, inventor and founder of Harvester Farm Machinery, listened. He financially supported the Flying Doctors while he was alive and after his death via his estate.
Thousands of ordinary Aussie battlers listened to John Flynn. They donated as little as a quid (two dollars) because they were inspired by John’s brilliant idea.
John’s enthusiasm rubbed off on Arthur Traeger, a young electrical engineer. Arthur experimented for years trying to find a cheap, easy way for outback stations to communicate across large distances.
He eventually came up with a wheel-less bike. This was a pedal transceiver that allowed people to generate power, sending and receiving morse code. It was an ingenious, cheap solution!
John Flynn was pre-eminent at solving difficult problems. He was never cowered by them. He never ducked, weaved or retreated. He felt that a tough problem stretched a person. He welcomed problems because the tussle made him all the stronger.
John Flynn, the camel man, had a simple prayer. “It is better”, he said, “not to pray for tasks equal to your powers. Instead, pray for powers equal to your task.
© 2019 well imagine that pty/ltd