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Introducing DR. DAVE BALDWIN: father, hunter, GP, aviator, author and moviemaker – or as he describes himself: “a free spirit”.

A quintessential kiwi bloke if I’ve ever met one, Dr. Dave is the mastermind behind the world unique Bulls Flying Doctor Service, providing aviation medical service to pilots at their remote airstrips located in rural NZ.

How did this all happen? Well after some prodding by his mum he went off to university, starting with a Science degree and almost accidently falling into medicine. Once a GP he got his pilot’s license and joined the RNZAF where he was the Ohakea Base Medical Officer. He started developing his subspecialty of aviation medicine, took over the Bulls Medical Centre and from there launched the Flying Doctor Service when it dawned on him that he could blend his love of flying, our beaut country and medicine into one.

He spends 25 hours a month flying to his surgeries at 16 small airports from Gisborne down to the deep South. Full of beans, he told me about how just the other day he landed in Blenheim in the morning mist, headed to the Malborough Sounds for lunch and a swim with friends, did a bit of writing then flew home to Palmy. With an office view from the cockpit, “I’m living the dream”.

Dearly worried about the health of his male counterparts, he started his Healthy Bastards campaign. Not one to beat around the bush, Dr. Dave uses kiwi slang and humor to educate the common man on his biggest killers – he’s got a book, movie and online textbook and just wants bloke’s to “use the bloody thing”.

Relevant for us students is his latest publication: The Flying Doctor. This autobiography is hilariously written in ‘Dave-speak’ and he importantly discusses hanging in there in the face of such a demanding career and carving yourself a path that’ll keep you mentally and spiritually healthy.

Dr. Dave told me it’s a bloody hard job but its “worth the hard yaka” and he’d “do it all again in another life”. He’s got friends all over the country and a lifetime supply of whitebait so only wishes others could be as lucky as him. Check out his website and publications.

Dr. Dave, you’re a true Human of Rural Health.