Doctor with wings

Dorothy Herbert AM for service to rural medicine through the Royal Flying Doctor Service and to aviation through the Australian Women Pilot's Association.

Dorothy Herbert.
Photo: Reproduced courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum , Sydney

Dr Dorothy Herbert AM (Member of the Order of Australia, 1999)

As a 13-year-old girl, Dorothy Herbert had two dreams: to be a doctor, and to fly.

World War II intervened - and after serving as a wireless operator she took a job tutoring in science at Queensland University. Her first pay packet went towards gaining her wings. In 1954 she achieved her second great goal, qualifying as a doctor.

Spotting an advertisement for a Royal Flying Doctor Service locum in the outback town of Charleville, Dorothy saw the perfect opportunity to practise both her skills and moved there as a general practitioner in 1961. To attend emergencies on remote stations, visit outlying communities and help the local surgeon reach his patients, she bought her own Cessna 182.

Through her flying and medical skills Dorothy was involved in many life-or-death events, treating critically ill patients and bringing them safely in, at times risking her own life to do so. Dorothy flew with the Royal Flying Doctor Service for 20 years and her actions have made her a role model for many young pilots today.

In 1981 a freak squall tossed a glider on top of her, crushing her chest and spine. No longer fit enough for the rigours of bush medicine, she moved to the Sunshine Coast and practised as a GP until 1996.

In 1997 Dorothy became a life member of the Aviation Medical Society of Australia and New Zealand. For her service to rural medicine through the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and to aviation through the Australian Women Pilot's Association - of which she was a founding member - Dr Dorothy Herbert became a Member of the Order of Australia in 1999.

See: Member of the Order of Australia

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Last Updated: 24 May, 2006