Magpas Air Ambulance, based in Cambridgeshire, UK, has profiled its chief pilot. Captain Richard Eastwood flew in the Royal Navy for 14 years before making the switch to air ambulances, and has been flying a total of 19 years. He said that he has wanted to fly since he was a child: “I thought the whole idea of flying was pretty extraordinary, so I joined the Navy, where I served 14 years. I travelled the world and flew helicopters and conventional [planes]. I enjoyed helicopter flying more; you could take off from your back garden and within minutes you can be heading for your destination – and you don’t need a runway.”
Used to the urgent need for response, Eastwood decided to join Magpas after finishing his military career. For him, working for Magpas is of ‘real value’ and is not just a job: “It’s about feeling passionately about the lifesaving cause and knowing I can use my skills to help someone who’s in a real traumatic circumstance.”
In the interview, Eastwood highlights the need for quick thinking and reactions. He also laments the ever-changeable British weather, though adds that it’s these variable factors that make the job exciting for him: “You never know where you’re going to land from one moment to the next, or who the welcoming committee might turn out to be when we land. Sometimes it’s a smiling face with a cup of tea and a slice of cake, other days it can be a vicious dog.”
Despite this risk, flying an air ambulance is still like ‘being on a magic carpet you’re in control of’ for Eastwood.