Harry Stevenson, Life Flight’s Head of Service Operations, has been with the trust for 16 years – and seen significant change.
“I was a commercial helicopter pilot working off Queen’s wharf in Wellington when the then Chief Pilot at Life Flight pilot offered me a job,” says Harry. “I’d always thought it would be a great job, and it is.”
When Harry first joined Life Flight in 2005, GPS was a new concept and when night vision goggles were introduced that was another big step forward. He’s also seen the helicopter sector safety culture mature with “significantly more risk assessment and management.” Now, he’s looking forward to the next generation of helicopters, equipped with integrated electronics and autopilot technology.
“Our current helicopters have done a great job and are still serving us well but there’s a whole new evolution of aircraft and it’s exciting to think what the future holds.”
We are so thankful for the amazing community support. The businesses, and the individuals, who donate what they can or help us in other ways – that is what enables us to do what we do.
Harry says being asked to name his most memorable mission is “the hardest question”.
“But one that really stands out for me, I wasn’t on. Last year, an 11-year-old boy (Lincoln O’Hagan) was swept off Wainuiomata beach. The water rescues are the most urgent of all our work. We had a very quick response but when the crew got to him, in a 25-knot northerly, he was at the end of his endurance and going under. They only spotted him because of his red running shoes. The Wellington Free Ambulance flight paramedic was winched down and was able to support him and get him on board. They got the NZ Search and Rescue Gold Award for that; I was so proud of them.”
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VolunteeringThe fabulous team of Life Flight volunteers ensure events run smoothly, the town is painted Red for the annual Chopper Appeal, and provide invaluable services like photography to help our small team along.