Meet the Flying Doctor’s female pilots

Meet the flying doctor's female pilots

Article supplied by RFDS Every March, Women of Aviation Worldwide Week is held in recognition of French Aviator Raymonde de Laroche becoming the first woman to be issued a flying licence on 8 March 1910.

The RFDS is proud of the women on our aviation team who followed in the footsteps of Raymonde de Laroche.

For the RFDS, Women of Aviation Worldwide Week marks an important opportunity to highlight the valuable contributions made by the women in our aviation teams, and to encourage more women and girls to consider a career in aviation.

To mark the week, we reached out to our five female pilots at RFDS SA/NT to ask them what their job means to them. Here’s what they said...

RFDS Pilot Heather Ford

Heather Ford – Pilot/Training & Checking Coordinator, Adelaide Base

“I know celebrating five female pilots in RFDS SA/NT may sound cheesy or corny, however it is a major achievement for the organisation to be proud of. Aviation can be quite challenging, especially as there have been a lot of opinions and behaviours formed in the 60s and 70s. These industry norms have slowly changed over my career in aviation, and I look forward to seeing it completely change in the not-to-distant future… Given that the industry figure worldwide is approximately five to six per cent, we are a minority. It is essential to promote the number of lady pilots that the RFDS has, for many reasons, but my main one is so that the young girls can see they can be pilots, astronauts, engineers, doctors and they can start imagining themselves in those positions and make it a reality.”

RFDS Pilot Jessica Dettmer

Jessica Dettmer – Pilot, Adelaide Base

“It’s been my childhood dream to come work for the RFDS and I am extremely grateful to now work along such dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced flight and medical crews. Digging into the aeromedical side has been a fresh yet rewarding challenge for me and I enjoy how every day is something new. I also love the balance of living in the city, but still having chance to venture outback. Each day I am part of a team to improve care and enhance the lives of those who need it most, and that’s incredibly fulfilling.”

RFDS Pilot Kellie Job

Kellie Job – Pilot, Alice Springs Base

“I’ve been an aeromedical pilot for six years and am still privileged to be a part of people’s stories. We only see people for a small part of what in many cases is a long journey to recovery for them and their families, but being part of an amazing team that puts so much care into caring for our patients for that brief period of time to try and make their journey that little bit easier is what being a part of the RFDS means to me.”

RFDS Pilot Laura Koerbin

Laura Koerbin – Pilot, Adelaide Base

“Flying for the RFDS is meaningful to me as it allows me to feel deeply rewarded by the work I do every day. I’m thankful on the daily to be able to work with such a talented and like-minded team of experts, delivering 24/7 care to all corners of the state. Working for the RFDS means I am excited to come to work every day and see first-hand the impact my role can have on someone’s life. I wanted to work for the RFDS as a means of giving back to the community and it’s so rewarding and meaningful to me to be able to see that happening with every job. This is a role that pushes me to keep challenging myself, to be flexible and adaptable, and to always be learning from the people I work with. It’s my dream job and I’m very lucky to love what I do.”

RFDS Pilot Ellie Gray

Ellie Gray – Pilot, Alice Springs Base

“I’m passionate about service to the community, especially rural and remote communities, and I love flying. The RFDS brings everything together in a strong and professional organisation, with an inspiring legacy. I’m proud to serve my community as part of the RFDS.”

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Dan Hamood was opal fossicking when he fell into a mine shaft

Dan Hamood was opal fossicking when he fell into a mineshaft

Article supplied by RFDS

In this gripping episode of The Flying Doctor Podcast, we hear the harrowing tale of Dan Hammoud, an opal miner and concreter from Monash, South Australia, who narrowly escaped death after falling into a 22-meter-deep mine shaft near Coober Pedy.

Despite the odds stacked against him, Dan’s survival story is a testament to resilience, community, and the vital role of services like the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The story highlights the challenges and dangers of being trapped in a remote location with serious injuries and limited resources.

Dan’s resourcefulness, resilience, and quick thinking played a crucial role in his survival.

Mining site image

For Dan, opal mining is more than just a hobby – it’s a way of life. He describes it as a release, a way to escape the monotony of everyday life and be stimulated by the challenges and excitement of mining.

Despite the dangers of mining in a remote and harsh environment like Coober Pedy, Dan finds solace in the solitude and adventure that comes with the territory.

The incident occurred when Dan, out blacklighting for opals at night, accidentally stepped into a deep mine shaft, plummeting 22 meters into darkness.

With a broken femur and arm, Dan found himself trapped at the bottom of the shaft, alone and without water for nearly 24 hours.

Mining site

The Royal Flying Doctor Service played a crucial role in Dan’s survival, airlifting him to Adelaide for urgent medical care.

Dan’s rescue, however, was not without its challenges, highlighting the difficulties of accessing medical assistance in remote areas.

Dan’s story has prompted discussions within the mining community about the importance of safety protocols and the need for greater awareness of the risks associated with opal mining.

While opal mining is undoubtedly a rewarding pursuit, it also carries inherent dangers that cannot be ignored.

Opals found in SA

One of the key lessons from Dan’s experience is the importance of never becoming complacent when working in high-risk environments.

Dan’s advice to always be aware of one’s surroundings and to avoid taking unnecessary risks resonates strongly with fellow miners, who recognize the need for heightened vigilance in the field.

Moreover, Dan’s emphasis on the value of having a companion when exploring the opal fields underscores the importance of looking out for one another’s safety.

In remote regions where help may be hours away, having a partner can mean the difference between life and death.

Opal Mining

As Dan continues his recovery, his story serves as a cautionary tale for miners everywhere.

While the allure of opal mining may be irresistible, it is essential to prioritize safety above all else.

Dan’s brush with death serves as a sobering reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of taking every precaution to ensure a safe return home.

In conclusion, Dan Hammoud’s near-death experience has sparked important conversations within the mining community about the need for greater safety awareness and precautions.

His story serves as a wake-up call for miners to prioritize safety and vigilance in their pursuit of precious gems.

As the mining community comes together to reflect on Dan’s ordeal, there is hope that his experience will lead to positive changes that prevent similar accidents in the future.

If you haven’t listened to the episode yet, head over to The Flying Doctor Podcast and give it a listen. And don’t forget to share this inspiring story with your friends and family!

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Plan to improve colour vision deficiency policy for pilots

Plan to improve colour vision deficiency policy for pilots

Article supplied by CASA Work is underway to settle and formalise colour vision testing options for pilots who are not able to pass clinical colour vision tests.

Plan to improve colour vision article

Our aim is to have new testing options available for pilots by the end of April that are formally prescribed through a legislative instrument. The tests will recognise that many pilots with a colour vision deficiency can demonstrate they are able to operate safely and competently without any medical or operational restrictions.

Consultation is currently underway through our Aviation Safety Advisory Panel, and public consultation on the proposed testing options is expected before the end of March.

The options will include an operational test designed to demonstrate a pilot’s ability to fly an aircraft safely through a robust and standardised operational test.

Interim measures

Pilots who are unable to pass the prescribed Ishihara or Farnsworth colour vision clinical tests and are seeking to renew their medical certificate are encouraged to call our Aviation Medicine team on 131 757 to discuss their individual circumstances.

We will work hard to ensure this interim period is as least disruptive as possible, whilst satisfying current safety and regulatory requirements.

Draft instrument for Class 5 self declaration medical reform

AOPA class 5 medical self declaration reform

Article suplied by AOPA

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia encourages all of our members and national supporters to download the DRAFT CASA EX**/24 Instrument for Class 5 Self-Declaration and to provide your direct feedback to both the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Minister for Infrastructure.


Click to Download:   CASA EX**/24 – Class 5 Medical Self-Declarations Exemption 2023 – DRAFT


Pip Spence
Director of Aviation Safety
Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Catherine King MP
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport & Regional Development

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New Class 5 medical self declaration scheme now available

CASA class 5 medical

Article supplied by CASA

A new Class 5 medical self-declaration scheme is now available to recreational and private pilots.

The new scheme will allow pilots to fly in aircraft up to 2000kg with one passenger if they self-assess and self-declare their health status, meet fitness and eligibility requirements and pass an online test.

Late last year we consulted on the draft policy proposal with feedback indicating that some of the operational limitations and excluded medical conditions were too restrictive.

As this is the first of its kind in Australia, we are taking an iterative and initially conservative approach.

The scheme is based on comprehensive risk analysis and a careful examination of what other safety authorities do overseas. It includes operational limitations on what you can do when flying with a Class 5.

We will also conduct a post implementation review and consider some of the current exclusions and effectiveness of the self-declaration scheme as well as progress a Class 4 certificate that will create more operational flexibility with the involvement of a GP.

To support applicants and healthcare practitioners, we have developed an online training module and comprehensive guidance material.

Pilots can apply through the myCASA portal.

Learn more about the Class 5 medical self-declaration.

Apply or renew your ASIC Card now

RFDS named Australia’s most reputable charity

RFDS most reputable charity 2023

Article supplied by RFDS

Australia’s Most Reputable Charity. Twelve times.

The RFDS was recently recognised as Australia’s Most Reputable Charity for the 12th time in Reptrak’s annual charity and not-for-profit study (2023).

Reptrak’s independent survey measures key areas such as trust, admiration, respect and overall esteem within the Australian charity sector.

Health and wellbeing remain a clear priority for all Australians with each of the five leading charities focussed on the physical health and wellbeing of Australians.


“A patient’s trust in their medical services is vital – particularly if they are living in locations that don’t have easy access to the services enjoyed in our cities,” RFDS Federation Executive Director, Frank Quinlan said.

“At the RFDS, we are humbled that we continue to earn the public’s trust in the provision of emergency medical and primary healthcare services to rural, regional and remote Australia. It gives us great pride to know that communities and families rely on us – and we are honoured to do such work. Our thanks go to every staff member, volunteer and supporter who is part of the RFDS team.”

This 2023 Charity RepTrak® survey result is testament to RFDS strong partnerships and relationships across the country, as well as the wonderful ongoing efforts of first responders, locals that clear and light dirt airstrips, long-serving custodians of medical chests, rural hosts for clinics, volunteers, fundraisers, sponsors, donors and supporters.

We thank them all for their tireless work to keep Aussies safe.

What is the Australian Charity Reputation (RepTrak®) Index?

For years, RepTrak (formerly known as the Reputation Institute) has published the Australian Charity Reputation Index, which ranks Australia’s 40 largest charities using a scoring system measuring areas such as trust, admiration, respect and overall esteem.

Measuring the perceptions of the community, the RepTrak index is focuses of seven drivers of reputation: Citizenship, Services, Innovation, Conduct, Leadership, Workplace and Cost Management.

This year, the RFDS scored a total of 96.6 points (out of 100), followed by Guide Dogs (93.3), The Fred Hollows Foundation (92.6), St John Ambulance (92.5) and Surf Life Saving Australia (92.3) rounding out the top five.

Maintenance Matters

CASA maintenance matters
Article supplied by CASA

Welcome to the October edition of Maintenance matters – a newsletter to keep you up-to-date with the rules and safety topics for your sector.  The consultation period on our proposed modular licensing structure is now closed. We look at what’s next. We have made things easier for maintenance organinsations to renew their certificates online. We provide you with an update on the progress made with the proposed maintenance rules for general aviation.  

 In this issue
Industry feedback will help fine tune amendments to the MOS
How to interpret your LAME licence – Category C
Renew your Part 145 certificate faster online
General aviation maintenance rules – we are making progress
Safety Management Systems
Link your ARN to your organisation
Industry feedback will help fine tune amendments to the MOS. Thank you for taking the time to submit feedback on our proposed modular licensing structure.  It will help us make any final changes to the Part 66 Manual of Standards and the associated implementation arrangements.
 Read more
How to interpret your LAME licence – Category CY ou are now the holder of a Category C licence. This licence category can only be used for the issue of certificate of release of service (CRS) for large aircraft. As the holder of this Category C licence, you can issue a CRS following base maintenance on aircraft carried out by a Part 145 approved maintenance organisation. This privilege applies to the aircraft in its entirety. A Category C licence can be endorsed with specific aircraft type ratings.
 Read Part 2 (3.6) of AC 66-08
Renew your Part 145 certificate faster online. Did you know you can renew your Part 145 maintenance organisation certificate, without any changes, using myCASA instead of downloading and completing a manual form? We have moved renewals for more certificates into myCASA to make it easier for you to interact with us online. If you are an accountable manager and your individual ARN is linked to your organisation’s ARN, you will now see a Certificates section containing any certificates you are authorised to manage when you login into myCASA. You can renew these certificates online when they are due in just a few clicks. If you need to make any changes to your Part 145 certificate, you’ll need to complete and submit the traditional form.

Sign in to myCASA 
General aviation maintenance rules – we are making progressAs part of our General Aviation Workplan, we  committed to establish new Part 43 maintenance regulations specifically for general aviation. We’ve consulted extensively and have taken industry feedback, including feedback received through the Technical Working Group and Aviation Safety Advisory Panel on board.
Read more
Safety Management SystemsSafety management is vital to keeping our skies safe. It involves managing your business activities and preventing accidents.
Need to set one up or just reinforce that you are doing the right thing?  We have the information you need on:what you should includehow to set it upwhat you need to educate your staff.
Find out more
 Link your ARN to your organisationHaving an organisational ARN means more than one person can interact with us on behalf of your company. Read more about organisational ARNs.

To link your individual ARN to your organisational ARN, login to myCASA, click Organisation Aviation Reference Number and follow the prompts. You will need to enter a code that is emailed to the organisation. You must be an accountable manager to interact with us on behalf of an organisation.

Read more about linking your ARN

And the answer is!In the September edition we asked which Part 66 licence can certify an avionics system requiring only a simple test to prove its serviceability?
While 66% of our readers told us the answer was a Category B1 licence holder, it was brought to our attention that our question may not have been clear enough for some. We acknowledge the question was a little ambiguous.
Read more
Test your knowledge!
Which Part 66 licence do you need to hold to issue a CRS after base maintenance of large aircraft carried out by a Part 145 AMO? The correct answer will be published in the November edition.

Message from RFDS CEO Greg Sam

Message from RFDS Greg Sam

It’s hard to believe we are almost at the end of another year. As 2023 draws to a close we reflect on what a great period it has been for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Greg Sam

In this edition of the Flyer we hear from Rhonda Vickers, who was in such a severe condition when we picked her up from Broken Hill to take to Adelaide that there were fears she wouldn’t survive the flight. Having suffered a cardiac arrest and multi-organ failure, Rhonda’s family were ready for the worst, but we got her to Royal Adelaide Hospital, and she was able to pull through.

This month is Mental Health Month and the leader of our Mental Health Team Vanessa Latham has provided some top tips for how to overcome the pressure and stress of our busy lives.

We also speak to Brendan Cullen, one of our local advocates or “Champions” in the We’ve Got Your Back program. The Program trained people like Brendan, who lived experience of mental health issues, to enable him to support others in the community. It’s a program we are very proud of, and I’m sure you will moved by Brendan’s experiences.

In addition, you can read about the new world record the RFDS played a role in setting at the Mundi Mundi Bash, and the latest efforts of the incredible Silver City Bush Treadlers, who hold an annual ride to raise money and awareness for the Flying Doctor.

We hope you enjoy the contents of the Flyer this quarter. It’s our small way of saying thank you for your support and to help you keep informed with the latest news from around the service. We couldn’t do it without you.

Warm regards,

Greg Sam

Chief Executive Officer
Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section)

Pilot Safety Hub

casa aviation

Article supplied by CASA

Welcome to the September edition of the Pilot safety hub newsletter focusing on non-controlled aerodromes.In this edition:watch a close call brought to life in our first animated crash comicsee how the right-of-way rules worklearn how to avoid loss of control accidentsdiscover the benefits of ADS-Bexplore new resources from around the worldfind out about a proposed new medical for private pilots.And don’t miss next month’s newsletter, when we turn our attention to weather and forecasting.

Crash comic close call. Like your safety messages with a bit of colour and movement? Try our crash comic animation.

Crash comics are a popular part of our Flight Safety Australia magazine – taking your stories of near disaster and revealing the safety lessons in a new way.

Now, we’ve animated one of those comics. It’s a timely lesson on the importance of good radio call procedures.

Explaining the right-of-way rulesAre you sure you know the right-of-way rules of the air?Get a fresh refresher with our animated explanation – straight out of the Visual Flight Rules Guide or VFRG.WATCHLoss of control lessonsLoss of control is the most significant cause of serious accidents for sports and recreational pilots.Watch a 3-part video series from Recreational Aviation Australia exploring the primary causes, contributing factors and how to avoid these types of accidents.WATCHNew resources from around the worldListen and watch the latest additons to the international section of the pilot safety hub:US video examining a fatal crash in high-density altitude conditionsNew Zealand podcast about poor radio callsCanadian video series on winter flying.EXPLORE