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Surprise visitor drops in

Matthew Corrigan

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A surprise visitor literally dropped in to Marple on Sunday, when a North West Air Ambulance Charity helicopter arrived to attend an emergency at the golf course.

Landing between the trees proved no problem for Captain Neil Airey. A veteran of the Royal Air Force, Captain Airey has been with the charity for nearly 17 years. Recently crowned the UK's Air Ambulance Pilot of the Year, he told me that the week before he had landed on a roundabout in Skelmersdale.

Once on scene, two HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) paramedics joined colleagues from the ambulance service to help the victim.

Based at Blackpool, the £3.2M Eurocopter EC135 is one of three operated by the charity. Cruising at about 150MPH, the flight time was somewhere in the region of twenty minutes. As Capt. Airey put it, they have two speeds – stop and go.  Just moments before they had passed right over a packed Old Trafford.

When the emergency was over, the crew were happy to chat with onlookers. One lucky young boy was shown inside the helicopter and a certain attention-seeking dog posed for photos with Capt. Airey.

Air Ambulance

And then they were off. Engines spooling up, the pilot had a quick chat with Manchester Airport before powering the bright yellow machine up and away into the sunny blue skies.

The charity performs an amazing service. Running costs are staggering and public donations literally keep them in the air. Please visit to see how you can help.

I'd like to point out that the photos depict the aircraft as it was departing and I had been advised where to stand by the pilot. It's important to remember to give medical staff room to work and to keep well clear of an operating aircraft.