16 Oct 2015

What is it like purchasing a helicopter? When our Finance Manager, Louise Schoeman, saw our helicopter land in a park years before she started working for London’s Air Ambulance, it didn’t cross her mind that she will one day be purchasing a second one for London. “It was exciting and much more complex than you would think,” says Louise. 

Louise has worked in banking for the last seven years and says that she feels the helicopter purchase, following the ‘Your London, Your Helicopter’ campaign, was not just another in a line of transactions she has closed but an accumulation of skills and experience throughout the whole of her career. “To use what I have very much learned in private equity to help the charity negotiate the best deal and spend the money that was kindly donated to us effectively was extremely satisfying.”

“It took a very long time to purchase the helicopter because of the amount of money involved. When I put down the phone having definitely closed the deal, it was exhilarating. To know that we have done it, that we have bought the helicopter and are close to being able to fly when our current one is offline for maintenance…. I felt like dancing. In fact, I think did dance.” [she laughs].  

“The moment we bought the helicopter we knew we had to tackle the challenges associated with getting it from Qatar to the UK and convert it to meet UK HEMS regulations. None of this is easy or straightforward. The helicopter had to be taken apart and shipped in a container from Qatar through the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, English Channel and finally to Felixstowe and then taken by road to our maintenance providers in Gloucestershire.” 

“You could tell the excitement and anticipation at London’s Air Ambulance. The crew have been tracking it through the shipping system - as you would a much anticipated mail package. Now the challenge is to maintain the two helicopters and the extended operations for the next five years and onwards. In many ways, buying the second helicopter is just the beginning.”

“When I see or hear our helicopter, I feel a wave of excitement. I can recognise the sound from afar. It sounds different from any other helicopter in London and it is the sound of help on the way. To be involved in a purchase that will have such a massive impact on London’s Air Ambulance and London as a whole is humbling. Every one of our supporters, partners and staff who contributed to this milestone should be immensely proud. Thank you!”