If you can dream it, you can do it!

Manon, a 27-year-old air ambulance first officer from Belgium, shares her experiences flying the Piper Cheyenne in Hungary. She highlights the unique aspects of air ambulance missions, including flying with a medical crew, transporting patients, and the aircraft's specialized configuration. Manon explains how each mission unfolds, with pilots preparing the aircraft and medical crew organizing the cabin. She emphasizes the challenges of staying focused during emergency medical interventions and the rewarding nature of her job, which centers around saving lives. Manon encourages those interested in a similar career to pursue their dreams and reach out with any questions.

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Hi there, I’m Manon, 27 years old, from Belgium. I’ve always been fascinated by the aviation world. After many years of hard work and studies, I have, finally, this amazing opportunity to fly the Piper Cheyenne in Hungary as an air ambulance first officer. And I am so excited to talk to you about it.

This job is a bit unique because of first, the crew composition. We fly each time with a medical crew (which includes one doctor & one paramedic) & patients. Second, the inside configuration of our aircrafts is different from the usual business flights, it allows us to transport one or two patients at the same time on 2 independents stretchers. There are also storage compartments for the medical equipments. Everything is made to facilitate the doctor’s life in case of any medical intervention during the flight.

Our missions are all over/around Europe & North of Africa. The most exciting & challenging part is that you can either land on a huge airport as Frankfurt or either in a small airport in the middle of the countryside with only an AFIS to assist you.

How is a typical mission going?

In 90% of the time, we receive the mission’s call the day before or at least 4hours before the ETD ( estimated time of departure ). Pilots must arrive 2h minimum prior of the departure time to prepare all the papers, the aircraft,… while the medical crew organise the cabin regarding the type of patients they will care.

When we arrive at the destination, the ambulance is waiting for us at the airport apron. They are driving the med crew to pick the patient up at the hospital. During that time, we (pilots) can prepare the second leg, do the refuelling & then take time to enjoy a good coffee.

The real challenge comes from the moment when the patient is installed in the aircraft. From that moment we are called “Active ambulance”. It means that we’ve got all the priorities. Everything goes faster & we must be ready at any time to accept (if possible) the shortcuts & priorities positions for take-off and landing.

Most of the time, patients’ conditions are stable. But in case, doctors must intervene, everyone must stay focused on his own job. At the beginning, it’s a real work on yourself that you must do : “ conditioning yourself to be prepare to ignore what you hear behind you & close mentally the door between the cabin and the cockpit.” (Actually, We don’t have door to separate us, so it’s hard to ignore what you can see and hear haha.)

To finish this short presentation, I just want to share that I love my job & I am so grateful to fly in this special atmosphere we have between the medical crew, the patients & us. We fly for life & that’s the most beautiful purpose in this world.

If you love adventures and you are not afraid to fly with patients instead of normal passengers, air ambulance pilot is surely the dream job for you.

If you have any questions regarding my pilot’s journey & career, I will be more than happy to answer to them on Instagram. You can find me as “pilotmanon”. Or via email : manon.collette@hotmail.be.

I wish you all the best & don’t forget : if you can dream it, you can do it.


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