Since I started flying I have had many memorable flights, ranging from scenic flights in a small Cessna at flight school to exotic flights in the Learjet and also life-saving ambulance flights. It’s just one of these ambulance flights that comes to my mind when I’m asked about a flight that I can remember.
It was in the middle of the winter and we were based in Tromsø with our ambulance jet, far north of the arctic circle. It was on a dark and stormy winter day that we were called out on a time-critical ambulance flight to Svalbard, a remote island community at 78deg north and the world's northernmost airport with scheduled flights. The call was to pick up a young child in a serious condition, which is never a fun call to get.
We flew as fast as we could to Svalbard and once there, our medical crew went to the doctor’s office to assist with the transport to the airport because of the child’s condition. In the meantime we prepared for an immediate departure to get the child to hospital as fast as possible.
When they arrived at the airport it was immediately obvious that time was of the essence, and the child’s parents were visibly distressed. As soon as everyone was onboard we closed the door and headed for Tromsø.
Not long after we got in the air, we received news from the cabin that the child’s condition had improved significantly after receiving initial treatment onboard, a huge relief for us. And soon thereafter, we were blessed with the most magnificent show of northern lights I have ever seen from the cockpit, as a sign from above that all would be okay for our patient. It was so bright it lit up the dark cockpit in green light!
As we got closer to Tromsø, we learned that the weather was quite bad, but still nothing out of the ordinary up north. With a strong tailwind in both runway directions we had to abort our first landing attempt, but we managed to land safely on the second attempt and as we taxied in, the ambulance was already waiting for us.
Why I chose to mention this flight is because it feels very rewarding to fly these kinds of flights. Sometimes we have to face situations where the end result is not what we wished for, but in most cases the story has a good ending – just like the flight from Svalbard. We were faced with plenty of situations challenging our pilot skills, but in the end the rewards were great!