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Pilot’s new flight path

Dean Herrick, right, is a former Life Flight pilot who is now the service manager at Fagan Ford in Masterton. The connection developed after Fagan dealer principle Keith Allen, left, offered to supply the rescue operators with three new cars. PHOTO/GERALD FORD

By Gerald Ford

When Carterton rescue pilot Dean Herrick was ready to return to his mechanical roots, it helped to find a supportive business.

For the past five years Dean has flown rescue missions for Life Flight, which is based in Wellington but also covers Wairarapa.

After deciding to look for work closer to home, Dean connected with Fagan Ford, who are Life Flight’s vehicle sponsor.

Dean’s wife Sherry is the partnerships and development manager for Life Flight, who earlier this year signed up Fagans through dealer principle Keith Allen, to the tune of three new vehicles.

“Sherry came in to see me. It was a no-brainer for us,” Keith remembers.

“We’ve all had experience with it (the Life Flight service). It’s such an integral part of the health system here.

“Our rural customers use it. When people need to be in Wellington and are seriously hurt… we’d be stuffed without it.”

Dean grew up in rural Carterton. He trained in the automotive industry and did his flying training in Masterton.

He worked in the automotive trade in Auckland before becoming a fulltime pilot.

“I had a natural interest in the mechanical side of it, which definitely helps in the flying.”

Before returning to Carterton five years ago, Dean had been flying for the Hawkes Bay rescue helicopter service.

“Wairarapa is home for me,” he said.

“The opportunity came to do some flying down here. We thought … we should jump at it.”

In his five years at Life Flight, Dean has flown some interesting missions, including into the Tararua Ranges and along the Wairarapa coast.

One memorable one was the search Carterton local who had been kayaking in Wellington and was swept out to sea.

“They were all looking in the wrong area,” he said.

“It was one of those jobs where you know he’s gone if you don’t spot him.”

Giving up the flying was “not an easy decision to make”, Dean said, but was about spending more time with family.

When he was on call for Life Flight he had to stay overnight at the base in Wellington.

His and Sherry’s children are now 5 and 2 years old.

“You get one go at being a dad,” Dean said.

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