Goodland’s Flying Doctor

Dr. Renner

Dr. Renner

When Marion J. Renner of Goodland made house calls, he took his doctor’s bag and his pilot’s license. From the 1930s through the 1960s, “The Flying Doctor” served the remote areas of northwest Kansas, sometimes flying 50 miles each day to check on a heart patient or up to 300 miles for an emergency at an isolated ranch. For many northwest Kansans in the mid-twentieth century, Dr. Renner’s flying house calls were often the difference between life and death.

“An airplane is a pair of seven-league boots to a country doctor,” observed “Doc” Renner. His airplane aided him in difficult calls, including flying over 15 miles of flooded roads to deliver several babies or landing between snow drifts to fly a desperate patient to the hospital.

“Goodland has had many visionaries who served as leaders for the development of community,” observed Karen Anderson, director of the High Plains Museum. “A fine example is Dr. Renner. A man invested in his community, he sought to increase the capacity and growth of Goodland through his particular skill set: his flying capabilities and his medical knowledge. He provided health care and made key connections outside the community to boost Goodland’s growth and place in Kansas and the United States.”

Dr. Renner’s work stories and the stories of other northwest Kansas workers will be on display in 125 Years of Work, the High Plains Museum’s companion exhibition to The Way We Worked Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. Both exhibitions are on display at the High Plains Museum in Goodland December 15, 2012 through January 27, 2013. Click here for events, dates, locations, and times.