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Northern NSW : Rescue Autumn 2017
We wish her well, and acknowledge the vital role played during the thousands of missions she flew over the past 23 years. Headed for new skies For those who knew her well, there was a nostalgic and fond farewell for the Service’s Bell 412 as the aircraft was officially retired from duty in March. The former fleet has made way for the rollout of the four new AW139 aircraft, which will be used during the next decade, under the new contract with NSW Ambulance and NSW Health. The aircraft has been sold to a German buyer and will be used during summer firefighting exercises in southern Europe. The Service first used the twin engine Bell 412 in 1993, after purchasing it from Toyota where the Japanese automotive company had been using the chopper to transport VIP executives. It was originally designed as a military aircraft, but was refitted for medical emergencies and search and rescue operations. The aircraft’s many missions included medical transfers, offshore winches, road accidents and intensive care transfers for newborn babies. Pilot Peter Cook, who has flown for the Service for the past 27 years, was operating the Bell 412 when a drive-shaft failure forced him to make an emergency landing at Kurri Kurri in 1995. He says the chopper will be missed. ‘She was a tough and reliable aircraft – just like a good old friend,’ Mr Cook said. Air crewperson Graham Nickisson, who has worked with the Service for 36 years, agrees. Rescue Magazine AUTUMN 2017 17 ‘She always brought us home, and was only as good as the engineers who helped maintain her.’ Former air crewperson, and now Community Liaison Officer, Barry Walton has 41 years with the Rescue Helicopter. He recalls many memorable tales flying with the Bell 412 including rescuing a sick patient off the back of the Fairstar cruise ship in 1996, along with the chopper being used to help rescue crew from the Pasha Bulker during the 2007 storm. ‘We wish her well, and acknowledge the vital role played during the thousands of aeromedical and rescue missions she flew over the past 23 years,’ Mr Walton said.
Rescue Winter 2017