Looking back as Wiltshire Air Ambulance marks 30 years

Looking back as Wiltshire Air Ambulance marks 30 years

Published by Mike Draper at 4:01am 15th March 2020.

3 minute read

A special video's been made looking at Wiltshire Air Ambulance's history as it celebrates its 30th birthday today, Sunday 15 March.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance's history is unique in the air ambulance industry because when it began it shared a helicopter with Wiltshire Police.

The idea for a joint emergency services helicopter originated in 1988 when a temporary helicopter hired by Wiltshire Police to use for its summer solstice operation at Stonehenge was used to airlift a woman who was seriously injured in a road traffic collision on the A350 at Beanacre, near Melksham.

A Wiltshire Air Ambulance Team photo, with the helicopter, in January 2020.
2020 TEAM PHOTO: Wiltshire Air Ambulance became a stand-alone air ambulance in January 2015, using a Bell 429 helicopter.

A full time joint air ambulance and police helicopter began operating on 15 March 1990, based at Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes.

The joint helicopter partnership came to an end in December 2014 with the establishment of the National Police Air Service. This resulted in a new era for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and on 9 January 2015 it became a stand-alone air ambulance, using a Bell 429 helicopter.


  • Archive television footage, courtesy of ITV News and BBC Points West
  • The three types of helicopter used by Wiltshire Air Ambulance - a Bolkow, an MD 902 and the current Bell 429
  • Innovations, including being the first air ambulance to fly at night in the UK, carrying blood products on board and critical care skills training of its paramedics
  • More recent milestones including the charity's move to its state-of-the-art airbase at Semington, and securing its own Air Operator Certificate for the Bell 429 helicopter


David Philpott, chief executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said:

"The history of Wiltshire Air Ambulance is fascinating and we hope our supporters enjoy the video which looks back at how our service and charity developed."

"We were one of the earliest air ambulances in the UK and are proud to serve Wiltshire and surrounding counties. Our strapline is 'funded by you, flying for you' and throughout our 30 years we have received tremendous support from the community which has enabled our crews to save countless lives."

"We rely on donations to provide our essential Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and with the help of our supporters we want to be here to serve the next generation of people."

A portrait photo of David Philpott Chief executive Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Photo by Terry Donnelly.
David Philpott, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance.


Take a look at Wiltshire Air Ambulance through the years here:

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