Budding young chopper pilot meets LifeFlight rescue hero
It started with an email to LifeFlight titled: “My friend Nigel loves helicopters”.
And today, nine year old Nigel Gibson, from a remote community in Far North Queensland, got the chance to show how much he loves helicopters, as well as sit in a real RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter and to meet a real rescue helicopter pilot.
Nigel visited the LifeFlight aircraft maintenance facility at Archerfield in Brisbane’s west - months after the Queensland aeromedical service received an email from Nigel’s teacher, Christina Bloomfield, explaining the young boy’s ‘obsession’ with helicopters.
Ms Bloomfield wrote to LifeFlight in June asking if they could organise to send any merchandise or photos of helicopters to help inspire Nigel to realise his dream of becoming a rescue helicopter pilot.
The LifeFlight Marketing and Communications team rallied and sent a ‘surprise care pack’ to Nigel, which included LifeFlight merchandise and memorabilia along with signed photos from Brisbane helicopter pilots Dave Bashir and Alex Dorr.
Dorr, a co-pilot of the newest LifeFlight AW139 helicopter and formerly the base lead of LifeFlight’s most remote base in Mount Isa, sent signed photos to Nigel, while pilot Dave Bashir, also recorded a personalised video message in which he showed Nigel around the newest $20 million AW 139 rescue helicopter.
The care pack was sent to Ms Bloomfield who sent the parcel on to Nigel, as he had by that time moved to another school.
“Nigel is such a passionate and lively young man and I know how much he loves rescue helicopters,” Ms Bloomfield said.
“I knew this would mean a lot to him. I love this special little fella, his little spirit touched my heart.”
Nigel even wrote a special message to the LifeFlight Rescue aeromedical crews in the original email request.
“Hello QLD rescue chopper pilot, I am Nigel in year 3 and Miss Christina and I like rescue helicopters. I am a black boy and she is a white girl.
Can you send us some pictures or some videos one day please? Thank you and bye to you. From Nigel.”
Nigel has now returned home to Wujal Wujal in far north Qld but made a special trip to Brisbane with family friends to visit the LifeFlight base.
“I’m super-excited to finally get to a LifeFlight base, to get a close look at the very cool helicopter and to meet one of the pilots,” said Nigel.
“I know it will take a lot of study at school and hard work but I really, really want to fulfil my dream of one day becoming a LifeFlight helicopter rescue pilot and to help save the lives of people when they need help.”
Alex Dorr said he was delighted to help out a budding young future pilot and it was one of the more satisfying aspects of the job when crews got the chance to show the amazing rescue helicopters off to young fans.
“We know how much kids love our RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters and we have three of the newest AW139s in our fleet which are state-of-the-art $20million aircraft,” said Alex.
“We thought he would find it interesting to have a video with us explaining the main parts of the rescue chopper and I understand he’s got the photos and other memorabilia proudly showing in his room at home.
“I know the LifeFlight Marketing and Communications Team also extended the invitation for Nigel to come and visit one of our bases any time he was in town and it’s a thrill for us to show him around here today.
“I think Nigel has been pretty excited to sit in a helicopter, meet the crew and get a special tour of the maintenance hangar.
“Who knows it might inspire him to follow his dream of being a helicopter rescue pilot and he might be LifeFlight’s first Indigenous rescue pilot?”
2016-17 was a record year for LifeFlight for lifesaving missions with its aeromedical crews, community helicopters and Air Ambulance jets performing a record 5,342 missions throughout Queensland and around the world.
LifeFlight is a community-based charity funded and supported by the LifeFlight Foundation
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