Meet the Pilots

Jakob Dingemans

Jakob Dingemans

After completing my Aerospace Engineering degree in The Netherlands, I started my journey to become a helicopter pilot. I have been fascinated with helicopters since I was little, so I moved to the UK in 2014 and conducted all the required flight training.

Before I joined the charity I was a flight instructor, which I enjoyed a lot and allowed me to teach a wide variety of students. In my spare time, I like to stay active and I am currently looking into starting an aerospace-related master’s degree.

Flying for the air ambulance is the main reason I decided to pursue a career in helicopters; I absolutely love my job and I feel very fortunate to be part of such a highly skilled and dedicated team.
 
David Gifford

David Gifford

I started my professional aviation career flying Super Puma helicopters out to oil rigs in the North Sea, having before flown light aircraft and been a gliding instructor. I then joined HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) flying across England before I joined the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (AAKSS) team.
 
 It is a great privilege to be able to mix my passion for aviation with the unique challenge of working for AAKSS alongside a team of exceptional people. It is an extremely rewarding role for me as a Pilot, flying into some interesting and demanding locations, day and night, in order to provide our life-saving service.
  
Flying aside, I spent six years in the British Army with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. I live in Hurstpierpoint where I enjoy village life and spending time with my wife and children (and dog) as much as possible. I am also a keen club runner with Brighton based Arena 80 AC.
Erwan Fossette

Erwan Fossette

I started flying when I was 15 years old. At first, I flew Aeroplanes in Madagascar, Mayotte and in the Alpes, doing some mountain flying and aerobatics. I switched into the Helicopter world in 2010. I completed my Commercial Pilot License in the USA and I have been instructing over 40 students in the States. I came back to Europe in 2013 where I started to fly offshore in the Shetland: landing on boats and offshore oil installations in the northern North Sea. And then, I had the opportunity to jump into the HEMS world which was a long time ambition of mine.
 
I feel very fortunate to be able to fly for Kent Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance and working with such dedicated medical crews and charity is a real honour.
 
When I am not flying, I spend my spare time travelling the world and kite-surfing. 
George Rieger

George Rieger

I started flying training in 2009 in the USA, having wanted to be a helicopter pilot since I was a teenager, and spent 6 years flying in the North Sea from multiple bases in a few different aircraft and gained some great flying experience there.

My aim from the start has been to one day fly the Air Ambulance and I feel very lucky that I have been given the opportunity to work with the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex with the amazing work they do and the incredible efforts of their medical teams and charity staff. It’s all the more meaningful having lived in Sussex as a teenager and still having family living nearby.

I live locally with my partner and dog and when not working I’m usually boring them about helicopters and classic cars.
Captain Paul Sargent

Captain Paul Sargent

Prior to joining the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex team, I spent the first 9 years of my career flying offshore helicopters from bases in Aberdeen, Denmark, and Norway. During my last 3 years as an offshore pilot, I was part of the training department responsible for teaching new pilots the challenges of offshore flying and ensuring the correct standards were being maintained by all company flight crew. After leaving the North Sea, I flew the Children’s Air Ambulance flying sick children all around the country for their life-saving operations. Alongside this role, I also flew the medical helicopters covering motorsport events such as the Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Moto GP, and the British Superbikes.
 
My aspirations to fly the AAKSS helicopter originated from a young age when I witnessed the helicopter land outside my house for a road traffic collision, and ever since, my ambition has been to join the AAKSS team and serve the community that I grew up in. I feel really privileged to have achieved my goal and to use my skills to help the people of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex.
 
I live in East Sussex with my partner and young son and enjoy participating in an array of sports such as windsurfing, paragliding, skiing, and cross fit. An unusual fact about me is that for 3 years I was in charge of Scottish Surf Life Saving on behalf of Surf Life Saving Great Britain.
Captain Ben Richardson

Captain Ben Richardson

I decided to be a helicopter pilot when I was eight years old and started flying ten years later, gaining my private pilot’s licence at university. I won a commercial licence sponsorship and shortly afterwards began flying to offshore oil installations in the northern North Sea. Since then, I have flown heads of state and VIPs across Europe and the Middle East, and Search & Rescue for HM Coastguard in Scotland.
 
However, it has always been my desire to be a HEMS pilot and I fulfilled this long-held ambition by joining Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex in 2018. It is an honour to work alongside such dedicated medical crews and for a progressive charity that is always looking to improve its service in both medical and aviation innovation.
 
I spend my spare time chasing after my children, going for the occasional run and the seemingly never-ending task of renovating our house.
Captain Blaine Ashurst

Captain Blaine Ashurst

Following 23 years in the Army, I joined the Air Ambulance in 1999 becoming Chief Pilot in the year 2000. The service has since grown and a second helicopter is now based at Redhill, covering the counties of Surrey & Sussex. I work closely with the Operations Director, Leigh Curtis, to ensure our operations are carried out safely and efficiently and within HEMS guidelines. I have been flying for over 25 years and have travelled all over the world in my previous career which has led to some varied flight experiences, in a variety of testing environments. I have also worked as a helicopter instructor and have experience in the police helicopter world.
Captain Nick Bramley

Captain Nick Bramley

I’m the Chief Pilot for Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex. Prior to this, I served with the Army, completing 22 years service, where I flew helicopters in various theatres of operations and spent a number of years as a flying instructor on the Lynx Helicopter. On retiring from military service I continued flying at various Air Ambulance and Police units within the UK until joining Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex, which had been a long time ambition of mine. It is a very demanding but wholly fulfilling role and I am honoured to work within such a dedicated team of professionals serving the people of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Captain Jon Evered

Captain Jon Evered

It is a huge privilege to be a part of this dedicated and highly professional team, in a role which provides a great deal of satisfaction for me. I joined the charity in 2015, from a background flying the Sea King Mk4 in the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force. The aviation within HEMS is key in shaving vital minutes off response times for those in need and delivering highly specialised clinical care to a scene. There is never a dull day, and the 3 counties are a lovely area in which to operate. I live just up the road from Redhill in Horley with my wife, 2 young children and black lab, and like to spend my time enjoying the countryside, running, swimming and cycling.
Captain Kevin Goddard

Captain Kevin Goddard

I retired from the Armed Forces after a career of more than 23 years flying and service around the world and I joined the Air Ambulance team in December 2007. It is a privilege to be working with such a dedicated, friendly and professional team, I look forward to assisting with the good work that actually makes a difference to the people of South East, England while doing what I enjoy most; flying.
First Officer Mark Howard-Smith

First Officer Mark Howard-Smith

I completed my Commercial Pilot training at Cranfield Aerodrome, Bedfordshire in late 2008 and in April 2013 was fortunate enough to join Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex. After completing the required type rating on the MD902 and NVG (Night Vision Goggle) training I commenced flying for the charity as a Co-Pilot in June 2013.

Since the launch of the Sussex and Surrey aircraft in 2007 I have been working as a volunteer for the charity attending talks, fund raising and trying to raise awareness of the fantastic work that the charity does. It has been a long term ambition to work on the Air Ambulance and it is a privilege to now be working alongside such highly skilled Doctors, Paramedics and Pilots.

I live in Horsham, West Sussex and when I am not working I like to keep active by going to the gym, swimming and running. I am also a member of a syndicate in a Hot Air Balloon and have had some fantastic flights over the stunning Sussex countryside as well as abroad.
First Officer David Milton

First Officer David Milton

I first started flying in 2005 pursuing a lifelong dream to become a pilot, in that time I have flown five different types of helicopters in six different countries. Commercially I have been fortunate enough to work in a number of different environments including flying into Silverstone for the British Grand Prix and pleasure flights over central London. I also became a flight instructor in 2011 and have enjoyed teaching a wide range of people to fly different helicopters. I joined the charity in 2014 fulfilling a goal of joining the Air Ambulance and part of a fantastic team providing a vital service to the South East.
First Officer Graham Robinson

First Officer Graham Robinson

I started my flying career in 2009, having been flying helicopters since 2003. Since then, my career has been a mix of aerial filming and corporate charter. I have also spent some time with the military, although not in a flying capacity. Outside of work, I enjoy sports such as speedflying, mountain biking and squash. Working in HEMS has been a long-term ambition of mine, so I am very happy to be involved in this role.

Kye Sharrad

“If it wasn’t for them, Kye may not be here today"

Five-year-old Kye Sharrad was feeding a horse at his grandfather’s stable when the animal suddenly turned, knocking Kye, who then...

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