Air ambulance pilot lands 3,000th mission

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A PILOT from the Daventry area has flown his 3,000th mission with the air ambulance.

Richard Craske, who lives in Long Buckby with his wife, flew his landmark mission for the Warwicksire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) to help a woman in her 40s injured while exercising a horse near Shipston-on-Stour.

Mr Craske, 50, has been a WNAA pilot since April 2004 and notched up more than 1,000 hours of flight time.

His first job was as an aircraft engineering apprentice with British Airways and he learned to fly at the age of 21 in the USA.

Mr Craske has flown helicopters since 1996. He is also a qualified instructor, charter pilot and Civil Aviation Authority flight examiner.

He said: “Being a pilot for the air ambulance is something I had aspired to for some time because for me it is the top job in helicopter flying.

“The speed of our response time, on average just six minutes, means that flying has to be second nature to all the pilots as there is so much else to do with so little pre-flight planning time.

“We are off and navigating en route and then the most important thing is looking for a suitable and safe landing site.

“From animals we could put at risk or that could endanger the crew and helicopter to overhead cables; there is so much to consider.

“After landing it is usually the pilot who receives the acclaim for such a skilful landing but it is actually well-drilled teamwork and marshalling skills of the crew that enable us to do what we do. A true team effort!

“It is an exciting and challenging role and certainly the most fulfilling of my career.

“Being part of a highly professional team which makes a difference to many people each and every day is tremendously rewarding.

“It is hard to pick just one highlight so far because there have been so many. As a crew we have saved so many people.

“It’s a great job and whenever I say what I do, people just say ‘Wow!’.”