Helimed 1 rescue helicopter says goodbye

A HELIMED 1 rescue helicopter said goodbye to the Gippsland skies last week when a pilot of almost 30 years flew the helicopter to Wagga.

The helicopter will be repainted before being deployed on a RAAF contract to an unknown destination in Australia.

During the flight, pilot Peter Leigh reflected on the many rescues, funny stories of work colleagues and late night flights.

The Helimed 1 was well known for the many rescues and medical transfers it completed while in service in the Latrobe Valley.

Maintenance crew member Terry Lowater joined Mr Leigh for the flight to Wagga.

Mr Lowater said Mr Leigh recounted the many memorable flights, including a rescue during the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race many years ago where Mr Leigh was one of the rescue pilots.

Mr Lowater said it was an honour to go with Mr Leigh on the final flight from Gippsland.

“Peter mentioned a rescue in South Gippsland where a lady had driven into flood waters in her car and called for help,” he said.

“The paramedic that got winched down to rescue her from the car did more damage to the car than the flood water as he was dropped onto the roof of the car.

“Another time was when there was an accident on the Princes Highway near Nar Nar Goon one night where there is a car dealership.

“It was the only place the helicopter could land so the highway wasn’t blocked.

“The paramedic and crewmen had a considerable distance to walk to the accident site and left Peter waiting at the car yard with the helicopter.

“Oblivious to what was going on, the owner of the car dealership came out shocked and asked Peter what was going on.

“Peter replied ‘I just dropped in to have a look at your cars mate’.”

Mr Lowater said one of the biggest highlights for Mr Leigh was going to work everyday knowing he could make a difference to the community.

The air ambulance helicopters have been around Gippsland for about 30 years.

This Helimed 1 came into service in 2001 and is believed to have completed about 13,000 rescues and transfers.