Student Peter Bull spent a week with Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance to find out whether a pilot’s life was for him.

It’s one thing to dream about what you most want to do for a career, but it’s something else when you get the chance to follow that dream! I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, who not only provided me with experience, but the motivation to follow my dream and enhance my understanding of such an amazing Charity! 

I am 17 years old and currently studying A-levels in Mathematics, Physics and Economics ready for the big step up into the real world. Living just outside of Plymouth, I love to get out and about doing whatever I can, be it mountain biking, running or sailing, and I have been working part-time as a Sail and Kayak Instructor for around a year.

I have always had an interest in flying, so it didn’t come as a surprise to my family and friends when I decided I wanted to follow a career as a pilot, either via the military or by gaining a civilian licence. Most courses across the country advise you to find a work experience placement that relates to what you are looking to do in the future. Most of those I approached were unable to help me due to restricted access to airfields, however, I was over the moon when I contacted Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and they were able to accommodate me for one week.

I would spend my time both at their Head Office, located in Wellington, and their airbase, located at Henstridge airfield. I packed my bags and headed up there on some of the most complicated roads I have ever had to navigate!

Upon arrival at HQ I was shown around and introduced to the small Charity Team. Julie and Alana explained everyone’s roles. I spent time understanding the different income streams and more importantly, where the income is spent, enabling this life-saving service to keep running. It was so inspiring to see the vast range of fundraising activities that take place across the two counties and

it was made apparent that without these voluntary donations, funding such an essential service would simply not be possible. I also spent time looking at the numerous events put on by local people and the amount of support that the Charity gives to each of them.

Then came the day I’d been waiting for: time to visit the airbase. Within minutes of my arrival, the crew were called out on a job; they had literally just got back from another and were deployed again. It was clear straight away that they had a demanding job, but a job I couldn’t help thinking would be a dream worth following.

Already buzzing from the departing helicopter, I was taken on a tour around the base. This included the hangar, new clinical training room, operations room and restrooms. Pilot Max Hoskins then gave me the chance to look around the aircraft. Max explained his background as a civilian pilot and we talked about his flying career. It was a conversation which couldn’t be more relevant to me, as I need to decide on which route I should take and I am very grateful to Max for sharing his experience and advice with me.

As if that wasn’t enough, Lara then invited me to join an induction day for the RNLI Lifeguards, who were visiting the crew as part of their Outreach Programme. Watching the Clinical Team demonstrate different procedures gave me a great sense of what it all comes down to: saving patient’s lives.

During my week, I was fortunate to have a second day at the airbase and meet more members of the Clinical and Aviation Team. Jo Walker kindly escorted me around and introduced me to the crew working that day. As it happens, at the time they were running through their handover briefing and said that I could listen in. This gave me a real insight into the everyday routine for the crew. Pilot Dan Kitteridge talked me through some of the aircraft controls and the start-up process before answering some of my questions on his life as a pilot, his past training and his career. A very big thank you to Dan for all his time, it was awesome!

Finally, it was great to be able to chat with Bill Sivewright, CEO, about his incredible experiences and flying career. It was so interesting to hear how he still uses those experiences to this very day. It is a conversation I will always remember.

I’d like to thank everyone at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance for not only giving me a real insight into how the Charity is run, but for also giving me a thoroughly enjoyable and priceless experience, which has motivated me to another level. It is certainly an experience I will remember forever!