NICKY Smith, who has been a trailblazer for women helicopter pilots, has joined Wiltshire Air Ambulance (WAA).

Nicky is the UK’s first female Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) pilot and joined WAA on November 1 after serving three-and-a-half years with Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

Nicky made history as the UK’s first woman military helicopter pilot in 1992 and was also the first woman to command an operational flying squadron in a 17 year career with the Royal Air Force.

She primarily flew Search and Rescue Sea King helicopters.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is also making aviation history as its new helicopter is the first Bell 429 to operate as an air ambulance in the UK.

The charity starts operating the Bell 429 as a dedicated air ambulance in January as its 24-year partnership with Wiltshire Police for the joint helicopter comes to an end in December, when the force joins the National Police Air Service.

She said: “I know I will be working for a class outfit and am very excited about coming on board and flying Helimed 22 (the new helicopter’s call sign).”

Nicky’s childhood dream was to become a helicopter pilot.

Her father served in the army and the family lived at an Army Air Corps base in Germany and Nicky loved to watch helicopters taking off and landing.

She added: “I get great satisfaction from being part of a team that can make a significant difference to a patient and, in some cases, this is between living or dying.

“Before I flew air ambulances, I had no idea that this sort of medicine could be administered by the side of the road.”