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LifeFlight Pilot clocks up 20 years on the job

Twenty years on-board community rescue helicopters means LifeFlight Line pilot Peter Marris has seen it all.

From plane crashes to ocean search and rescue operations, multi-vehicle accidents to train derailments, Peter has been at the helm of the Bundaberg rescue helicopter for some of the most complex and devastating missions imaginable.

Bundaberg born and bred, Peter always knew that his destiny was in the air.

At just seventeen years old, Peter began his career as a rotary wing pilot flying in the RAAF for six years, before moving onto fixed wing aircraft for another seven, though his heart remained in the chopper.

It was then virtuous that upon discharging from the airforce and returning home to Bundaberg, Peter was offered a position on the newly established helicopter service, then operating as the Energex Community Rescue helicopter.

Throughout his time Peter has flown numerous helicopters and seen the service evolve exponentially.

Peter reflects that although the job has remained the same since his beginnings twenty years ago, the developments in helicopter's size, engines, and capabilities have revolutionised the complexity of missions they can perform and efficiency with which they can do so.

Complex missions that Peter recalls as most notable include the hunt for the arsonist of the Childers Backpacker Hostel in 2000,  the Cairns tilt train derailment in 2004, and the search and rescue mission for a missing fishing trawler in treacherous weather at The Town of Seventeen Seventy last year. 

One mission in particular that has stuck with Peter is a plane crash in Maleny with six fatalities on-board, which Peter admits is difficult to deal with, though congenital to the role.

"The best part of the job, apart from the physical flying, is genuinely helping someone in need of assistance and making a difference for them in the final outcome," Peter said.

Peter has made an invaluable contribution to LifeFlight and the lives of thousands of patients since he first started 20 years ago and, in his words, plans to continue his service for as long as his mind and body can keep up.

2017 was a record year for LifeFlight for lifesaving missions with its aeromedical crews, community helicopters and Air Ambulance jets performing a record 5,344 missions throughout Queensland and around the world.

LifeFlight is a community-based charity funded and supported by the LifeFlight Foundation

To support the LifeFlight Foundation visit:
www.lifeflightfoundation.org.au