Wiltshire Publications

Trailblazer pilot joins Wiltshire Air Ambulance

TRAILBLAZING the way for female helicopter pilots, Nicky Smith has joined the Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

Nicky is the UK’s first female Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) pilot and joined Wiltshire Air Ambulance on 1st November after serving three and a half years with Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

Nicky made history as the UK’s first woman military helicopter pilot in 1992 and was also the first woman to command an operational flying squadron in a 17-year career with the Royal Air Force (RAF). She primarily flew Search and Rescue Sea King helicopters.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is making aviation history as its new helicopter is the first Bell 429 to operate as an air ambulance in the UK.

The charity starts operating the Bell 429 as a dedicated air ambulance in January 2015 as its 24-year partnership with Wiltshire Police for the joint helicopter comes to an end in December 2014, when the force joins the National Police Air Service.

Nicky, was at the recent launch event of the Bell 429. She said, “It was fantastic to see the Bell 429, looking super smart in the new Wiltshire Air Ambulance livery. This modern, fast helicopter represents a real step forward in safety and space available, leading to a high level of care for patients in Wiltshire.

“I was bowled over by the huge level of support for the new air ambulance service by the people of Wiltshire and I was particularly struck by the amazing reception given to the crew and patients.

“I know that I will be working for a class outfit and am very excited about coming on board and flying Helimed 22 (the new helicopter’s call sign). The opportunity to be part of a team introducing a new aircraft into service is an exciting proposition.”

Nicky, who has 28 years’ flying experience, said it is an honour to be a HEMS pilot.

She said, “I love flying an air ambulance. We work in a small, closely-knit crew with each one of us having a specialist role. I feel very privileged to have witnessed at first hand the amazing medical service that is delivered to seriously ill and injured patients.

Nicky begins her training on the Bell 429 later this month. The other pilots working on the new air ambulance are George Lawrence, unit chief pilot, and Steven Judd, the group chief pilot, who joins later this month. Both George and Steven have flown the current joint Wiltshire Police helicopter/air ambulance. A fourth pilot will be recruited in early 2015.