By HARRY CLARKE
THE legacy of one of the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s longest serving aircraft mechanics lives on at one of the organisation’s far flung outposts, as Charleville base manager Liane Spencer embarks on her third year working for the vital country health service.
Spencer’s father, Gordon Fraser, was employed by Trans Australia Airline and spent 30 years servicing RFDS planes at Charleville between 1950 and 1983.
His decades of contribution is commemorated by a street out by the Charleville aerodrome, Gordon Fraser Drive, bearing his name.
Sharing the special historical significance of being a second generation RFDS worker, Spencer said her fond memories in the RFDS Charleville hangar as a child inspired her longing to work for the service.
“In Dad’s days, engineering was officially outsourced to Trans Australia, meaning Gordon not only did the maintenance on the Fokker Friendships for TAA but also the Flying Doctor planes as well, often having to fly to remote locations to get the crew back in the air,” Spencer said.
“He was however an RFDS man at heart, forming many strong friendships with the RFDS staff.
“So many of my early memories are spending time with him in the hangar and him telling me about how much he enjoyed his time with the organisation and instilling in me his love of aircraft.
“When the opportunity to work for the RFDS came along I knew I had to take it, and I love coming to work every day and seeing that the special impact he had on the community in Charleville is honoured.”
Along with her own personal memories, Liane has shared some historical images and handwritten notes detailing her father’s time with RFDS.
“It’s mind blowing to see the changes that have happened over the years between dad’s time and now,” she said.
“The RFDS of today has world-class engineers and technology, but back in his day, they had to innovate and work with what they could to keep the aircraft running during the weeks it took to get parts in.
“I’m just very pleased that the one consistent between Dad’s time and mine is that the incredible team culture has still stayed the same.
“Working for the RFDS is by far the best job in town, there is so much diversity in daily tasks, plus I work alongside the smartest people who all treat each other with incredible amounts of respect.”
The RFDS has 23 air bases around Australia and 79 aircraft. Over the past year alone, the organisation has flown 28,953,688km and tended to 337,686 patients in rural and remote areas.