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Real life drama for air ambulance pilot

PUBLISHED: 08:30 26 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:26 03 March 2010

A PILOT was recovering in hospital last night after he collapsed just minutes after landing his helicopter on a school playing field.

Sixth-form pupils at Sudbury Upper School were left shocked after seeing the pilot of the East Anglian Air Ambulance keel over in front of them just minutes after they had presented the helicopter's three-man crew with a cheque for £1,300.

A PILOT was recovering in hospital last night after he collapsed just minutes after landing his helicopter on a school playing field.

Sixth-form pupils at Sudbury Upper School were left shocked after seeing the pilot of the East Anglian Air Ambulance keel over in front of them just minutes after they had presented the helicopter's three-man crew with a cheque for £1,300.

The pilot collapsed and fell unconscious while showing the pupils around the helicopter and an ambulance was called to take him to the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds for treatment.

A statement issued last night by the East Anglian Air Ambulance charity said the pilot – who has not been named – was expected to be discharged from hospital today, but it would not comment on what had caused him to fall ill.

A spokesman for the East Anglian Ambulance Trust added: "It goes without saying there is an element of relief the pilot didn't collapse in flight, but this could have happened to anybody at any time, whether they be a pilot or a bus driver.

"All the pilots aged over 50 have a medical every six months and this particular pilot had a medical in November and was very experienced."

Pupils at Sudbury Upper School had raised money for the air ambulance through a series of fundraising events and had arranged for the three-man crew to land at the school to collect the £1,300 cheque.

The helicopter – known as Anglia One - landed on the school field at about 10.30am yesterday and the crew accepted the cheque before showing pupils around the air ambulance.

Student Paul Steward, 17, who was with the pilot when he collapsed, said: "We was looking around the helicopter and the pilot just collapsed in front of me. I alerted the paramedics and just tried to comfort him by talking to him."

Sudbury Upper School's head of sixth-form, Nigel Brown, said its concern was for the welfare of the pilot.

The helicopter was left stranded on the school's sports field for more than two hours after the pilot collapsed and a reserve pilot had to make the 60-mile trip from Norwich to Sudbury to recover it.

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