Congratulations to Captain Paul Smith!

13 October 2021

Congratulations go to pilot Paul Smith who has just been promoted to Captain! Aged 27 Paul is among one of the youngest pilots in the UK to achieve this distinction.

Paul had his first helicopter lesson when he was 16 and has been hooked on flying ever since - holding a pilot’s licence before even getting his driver’s license(!). With ten years’ flying experience and three years stationed at our Cambridge base flying as part of the Anglia Two team, Paul has now passed the gruelling training to reach the position of Captain. Well done, Paul!

We asked Paul a few questions about the training and what it’s like to be one of our pilots.

What does the training involve?

“To be a Captain has required six months of Command Training. The first hurdle is getting the captain’s licence with the support of Babcock, which is a combination of having enough experience behind you and passing some flying skills tests. This is then followed by a period of Line Training with our senior HEMS captains to formally put all of the knowledge and skills into practice, such as testing my decision making, knowledge of procedures, ability to manage the crew and all of the aviation requirements of the jobs we go to, most importantly the specific challenges of HEMS flying. As you can imagine it’s a really, really tough process, but well worth it to now be flying as one of the Captains at Cambridge.”

What do you like most about being a HEMS pilot?

“I personally really love the night flying that we do, as it’s the most technically challenging part of the job but really vital to be able to help people no matter what the time of day or night. Nothing about our job is ‘planned’, so you have to be able to think on your feet as you’re always landing somewhere new and having to make decisions quickly. This really tests us from an aviation perspective and makes every aspect of the job exciting, while helping people at the same time. I’m really lucky to do this job and it really is a huge privilege to do this job for EAAA.”

Where is the most memorable place that you’ve landed?

“Living locally to Cambridge it’s nice to be able to fly over places you know well, bringing that local knowledge to the job to help inform where we can best land to access the scene. One of the most memorable places I’ve landed has to be on Parker’s Piece, a large green in the centre of Cambridge. As you can imagine, being a popular park in the centre of the city this was a really challenging place to land!”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

“This job will always have its challenges but working throughout the pandemic was especially difficult yet rewarding. Flying in the heat of summer last year in in PPE, such as FFP3 masks, brought extra challenges to the job but we were thankful that we could still operate and still deliver a high quality of service to the people of East Anglia.”