A Flying Start

By Dr Anthony Rengel

Aviation has always been in my blood. My father was an Air Force veteran, and like my father, I have made flying a part of my life. My father, a migrant, joined the Royal Australian Air Force in the general pool. Not able to get in as aircrew, he spent a few years working in intelligence with deployments to South East Asia, followed by some time in engineering (where he started his flight training) and eventually as a reservist and AIRTC instructor. I joined the cadet system and completed my first solo flight at the age of sixteen. However, it was through a career in medicine that I’ve been able to incorporate this great passion of mine into my daily life.

The demands of a medical degree are great – long hours spent on the wards, many hours of study, leaving little time to be social, or to work in order to support myself. Like many students, I often needed assistance from family in order to attend extracurricular courses, conferences, or placements away from home. I also needed lots of moral support and encouragement to get through the long days!

Sadly my idol and mentor, my father succumbed to a short battle with cancer in 2011. His death deeply affected me. His passing placed great strain, emotionally and financially on my family. At many points, I considered taking a year off from study to rest and save to get through the remainder of my degree.

With the help of the AVCAT Legacy Scholarship easing the financial strain, I was able to save to go on a remote placement with the Royal Flying Doctors, as well as do a short elective study in London. My time with the Royal Flying Doctors cemented me in undertaking training in both rural general practice and aerospace medicine.

Today I am living my dream – I work as a rural GP and as an Aviation Medical Examiner. I am lucky enough to fly myself to remote communities in WA’s Midwest region to run health clinics. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with amazing people – remote area nurses, Indigenous elders, airline pilots, my lovely rural patients, Antarctic expeditions, ADF veterans and even an astronaut! Thanks to AVCAT, I have been able to achieve this and carry on the family’s aviation legacy.

Dr Anthony Rengel completed a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (Honours) at the University of Western Australia in 2014, with assistance of the AVCAT Legacy Scholarship. He currently finishing his fellowship with the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) as well as undertaking further post-graduate studies in aerospace medicine.

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