History and Facts

Get to know Wales Air Ambulance

Fast Facts

All-Wales Charity

Wales Air Ambulance is an all-Wales charity providing vital emergency air cover for those who face life-threatening illness or injuries.

Arriving within as fast as possible

The aim of Wales Air Ambulance is to reach, treat and transport patients with the greatest speed possible to the most appropriate hospital for their needs.

Over 24,000 missions

The service has carried out more than 24,000 missions to date since its launch on St David’s Day 2001.

Airborne in 3 minutes

A pilot can have the helicopter airborne within 3 minutes of receiving an emergency call

Travelling 150mph

The aircraft can travel at 150mph – over 2 miles per minute – and can reach anywhere in Wales within 20 minutes.

400 paediatric missions

Wales Air Ambulance responds to roughly 2000 missions every year. Around 400 of these are paediatric missions (children under 16 years).

30% road traffic collisions

Approximately 30% of missions are to road traffic collisions.

2000 Missions per year

Wales Air Ambulance responds to roughly 2000 missions every year. Around 400 of these are paediatric missions (children under 16 years)

Golden hour

Treatment within the ‘Golden Hour’ improves the chances of a patient’s survival and early recovery.


A helicopter has the capacity to carry 1 pilot, 2 medics and 1 patient. We have a spare seat that can carry an additional medical practitioner, or the parent of an injured child.

National Children's Air Ambulance for Wales

We are the National Children’s Air Ambulance for Wales, and have one of the most advanced incubators in the UK, to help sick babies across the country.

£6.5 million per year

The cost of running the service across Wales is over £6.5 million per year.

Busiest Air Ambulance operations

Wales has grown to become one of the busiest air ambulance operations in the UK. With four aircraft we are the largest air ambulance operation in the UK.

Public donations

As a registered charity the service is wholly dependent on public donations, and does not receive any support from the national lottery or the government.


The helicopter can land next to a patient, saving valuable time in areas a land ambulance cannot reach. It is the only aircraft that can land on a road or even a back garden.

15 Years of Air Ambulance

A 5-day service is launched at Swansea airport on St David’s Day and is officially opened by the Prince of Wales

First mission: crew treat and airlift rugby player with neck injuries in Glyn-Neath

The service increase to a 7-day operation in July

Wales Air Ambulance is branded in the national colours of red and green

The charity begins fundraising appeal to introduce an air ambulance in North Wales

By 1st July the charity launches a 5-day operation at Caernarfon Airport, and with continued fundraising efforts increases to a 7-day service

First fundraising office for North Wales opens

Helicopters are upgraded to BOLKOW-105 DBS model for extra room

The charity has opened five fundraising shops throughout Wales

The lifesaving lottery continues to grow with 20,000 members, bringing in £1 million for the charity

A third helicopter is stationed at Welshpool Airport in time for the busy summer period

Charity reaches 5,000 mission and Caernarfon base is named busiest air ambulance in Britain

The charity launches its Golden Hour challenge, backed by rugby star James Hook

The charity continues to grow with fundraising offices in Swansea, Caernarfon and Wrexham

In March, Wales Air Ambulance launches a 12-month campaign, the £1 appeal, to upgrade its helicopters to a ‘new generation’ model

The £1 appeal road show tours Wales involving dozens of schools, businesses and communities; spreading the word that everyone can help save lives with just £1

The £1 appeal is a success, and in April Wales Air Ambulance launches its first EC135 aircraft at Cardiff castle. A second new arrival touches down in Caernarfon in September

Charity reaches 10,000 missions and scoops Air ambulance of the Year at the Health Business Awards

The upgraded Air Ambulances make a vital difference to operations, helping to save even more lives.

A crew in Swansea is named Air Ambulance Team of the Year at the ASI Awards in the house of Lords, for their pivotal role on a mission

Wales Air Ambulance has: 3 fundraising offices; 15 charity shops; 3 helicopters covering Wales; and has responded to over 14,500 missions.

Its in-house Lifesaving Lottery scheme has over 36,000 members, helping to fund one helicopter.

This year saw the launch of the charity's Leap into Action campaign with the aim of raising £600,000 to upgrade Welshpool's helicopter to a new generation air ambulance.

In November the charity introduced the newest addition to their fleet, a highly advanced EC135 air ambulance.

Air ambulance operations are extended each day to maximise flying hours.

New lifesaving equipment is launched: portable incubators for infants, video laryngoscopes to clear airways with a camera, and medical drills to inject medicine directly into bone.

The charity carries out its 19,000th mission on St David’s Day, airlifting a heart attack patient from the top of a snowy Pen y Fan.

Series three of Wales Air Ambulance’s fly-on-the-wall TV show becomes one of the most watched series in the ITV UK Network.

Consultant-level doctors join Wales Air Ambulance shifts in a pioneering new scheme, providing more advanced treatments such as emergency surgery and blood transfusions.

Wales Air Ambulance launches Airbase Appeal to fund its new home in Dafen. The £500,000 campaign will help to build the hangar and helipad for the charity’s South Wales helicopter.

The charity’s head office staff and South Wales aircrews move into their new, purpose-built facility in Dafen, Llanelli. The move will save the charity thousands of pounds in rent and fuel.

WAA launches a fourth aircraft, making it the largest air ambulance operation in the UK. The helicopter is based at Cardiff Heliport and is dedicated to paediatric and neonatal transfers between specialist hospitals, helping Wales’ youngest patients.