The Northland Age
New chopper to join Northland Rescue Helicopter fleet next year
A new helicopter will join the Northland Rescue Helicopter fleet next year as the service makes plans for the future.
Northland Rescue Helicopter chief executive Craig Gibbons announced yesterday the organisation’s plans to buy another Sikorsky S76C++ to join the other two in its fleet.
“Our exceptional team of engineers will have it operational in the second half of 2023, which will give us a more modern fleet,” Gibbons said.
The purchase and fit-out will cost around $4 million, meaning the 2022 annual fundraising appeal for Northland Rescue Helicopter is of even more importance.
“Every year, we need to fundraise a minimum of $1m to help cover our operational costs,” Gibbons said.
“With the need to buy a new helicopter, our annual appeal holds even more importance this year and in 2023.
“We are very grateful to the people of Northland for their ongoing generosity, and the purchase of the new helicopter is so we can continue providing the best service and care for our community.”
The announcement comes after the retirement of Northland Rescue Helicopter’s longest-serving Sikorsky S76, “Lima”, now 42 years old.
Lima was brought to life in recent years in the form of a popular children’s book — Lima Leaps To The Rescue — which follows Ollie and Tia on a sand dune adventure at Ahipara.
Lima has been part of the Northland Rescue Helicopter fleet for the past 18 years and flew 5000 hours helping people in Northland.
She also helped out in the aftermath of the Christchurch Earthquake in 2011.
Her retirement coincides with that of Northland Emergency Services Trust (Nest) trustee David Keys, who has stepped down from the board after 15 years of outstanding service.
Nest chairman Paul Ahlers said it had been a privilege working alongside Keys.
“David always remained focused on making sure that we maintained our service in Northland,” Ahlers said.
“On behalf of the board and the entire Nest team, I’d like to thank David for his service and the valuable contribution he has made to our community over his time.”
Gibbons also paid tribute to Keys for the immense support he had provided the organisation.
“Ever since I took on the CEO role, David has been nothing but supportive and has always been willing to share his immense knowledge of the organisation and the sector.”