England

New air ambulance officially launched

Air ambulance at Nottingham Castle
Image caption The new helicopter can fly further and has better medical equipment

Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire's new air ambulance has been officially launched at Nottingham Castle.

The custom-built MD 902 Explorer costs £1.5m a year to run and replaces the one used by the charity for 10 years.

It has a longer range than the previous model and is fitted with more up-to-date medical equipment.

The launch was attended by supporters of the charity, including the parents of a student who was airlifted to hospital following a car crash.

Don and Jill McClaren's 20-year-old daughter Alex died after the accident at Southwell in Nottinghamshire in 2001, but her family say the speed with which she was recovered allowed them to be there for her final moments.

Mr McClaren, from West Bridgford, said: "We were allowed to spend time with her and it gave us the opportunity to say goodbye, rather than being told over the phone 'we're very sorry, your daughter's died'."

'Pleasure to fly'

The charity, which relies on public donations, is based at RAF Waddington to the south of Lincoln, and has flown more than 10,000 missions.

Pilot George Phillips said he was delighted with the new helicopter.

He said: "You can imagine having your own new car, straight out of the showroom. Well this is the first time I've ever flown a brand new helicopter.

"I've flown an awful lot of helicopters in the last 30 years but this is absolutely brand new and it's a great honour actually - and a pleasure to fly."

The previously-used helicopter - also an MD 902 Explorer - will be placed on standby to be used as a replacement when the new aircraft needs maintenance.

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