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Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance member wins Pilot of the Year Award

Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance Press Release | December 1, 2023

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 54 seconds.

Myles, 59, played a pivotal role in setting up a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) base at Perth in 2013. Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance Photo

Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance’s (SCAA) longest-serving pilot has proved he’s one of the best in the business.

Capt Russell Myles, who helped establish the charity’s life-saving service 10 year ago, has won the prestigious Air Ambulances U.K. Awards of Excellence “Pilot of the Year” title, marking him out as the sector’s top U.K. pilot in 2023.

Myles, 59, played a pivotal role in setting up a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) base at Perth in 2013 and has used his extensive flying experience and outstanding skills to create an operation tailored for Scotland’s unique environment.

Announcing the award at a special event in London yesterday evening, judges told how Myles’s “exceptional flying skills” over the past decade have impacted countless lives, navigating through Scotland’s challenging terrain and weather conditions.

Air ambulance crews and charity staff from across the U.K. heard that his “expertise and dedication” served as a lifeline for numerous families — also earning admiration from fellow pilots for his mentorship, patience and outstanding skill in handling aircraft in Scotland’s demanding terrain and weather conditions.

A delighted Myles said he was “thrilled and honoured” to receive the national recognition and acknowledged the strong competition he faced from other shortlisted air ambulance pilots.

Originally from Northern Ireland and now staying in Perthshire, the former military and civilian pilot said his decade with SCAA, working through Babcock Mission Critical Services Onshore, has been one of the most rewarding roles of his career.

“It was really good to be involved right from the beginning at SCAA and see it grow into a two-base, two-helicopter, operation that serves the whole of Scotland,” he said. “I’m humbled that just doing my job is seen as worthy of national recognition as it’s a real team effort at SCAA — every one of our paramedic crew who takes off to attend who knows what with me each day deserves a share in this.”

Myles, who is due to retire in May, said the award was a lovely recognition as he serves his final months with the charity life-saving service.

“It’s been a great 10 years,” he said, “and hopefully what I’ve done — and do— makes a positive impact on SCAA’s mission. Every HEMS we attend could be a potential life-saving flight and I’m honoured to play my part.”

Myles operates at SCAA’s Perth airbase as part of a pool of two pilots and six paramedics — a team replicated at the charity’s Aberdeen airbase.

SCAA chief executive David Craig described Myles’s contribution to the charity as “outstanding” and said he was a worthy recipient of the Pilot of the Year accolade.

“HEMS pilots are a breed apart,” he said. “HEMS pilots in Scotland are something special. And a HEMS pilot in Scotland like Russell Myles is truly unique.

“Russell came to SCAA with a wealth of fixed-wing and rotary flying behind him – both military and civilian – and used every ounce of that experience and expertise to create a unique operation for Scotland – the country’s first charity-funded air ambulance.

“Scotland is acknowledged as presenting some of the most challenging flying for helicopter pilots anywhere in the U.K., and Russell’s knowledge and experience of the many weather and landscape vagaries soon became apparent as time after time he was able to pull off the most daunting missions and help save the lives of patients in every corner of the country.

“His commitment to reaching the patient remains to this day. His handling of the aircraft in every weather condition Scotland can throw at him has ensured help reaches those most in need – often life-saving help.

“Everyone at SCAA is thrilled to see Russell acknowledged as the best in the business – a well-deserved honor.”

This press release was prepared and distributed by Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

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