History We are very proud of our roots, together with the landmarks that have got us to where we are today - we wouldn't be here without our amazing supporters, fundraisers and volunteers. Scroll down below to discover how and when our mission began and to read about our highlights to date. Keep checking in to see the additions to our timeline. In 1986, Ann Thomas' son Ceri was tragically killed in an accident in which he was knocked from his bike. When she asked what could have saved her son, she was told that the quicker a patient receives treatment the better their chance of survival. This stayed with Ann and she launched the 'Ceri Thomas Appeal' to raise funds to get an Air Ambulance in Devon. On 27 August Devon's Air Ambulance flies its first mission. Prior to this the crew and helicopter landed on Exeter's Cathedral Green for a blessing by the Bishop of Exeter. The service launches flying five days a week. On 7 July 1997 the service is extended to seven days a week. Devon-born Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies launches a larger stretched Bolkow aircraft at The Gipsy Hill Hotel, Exeter. In September, Devon Air Ambulance launches its own in-house lottery. DAA celebrates the 10th anniversary of its first lifesaving mission with its Air Ambulance Challenge. This involved visiting all emergency helipads throughout the UK. Ten years on the Bishop of Exeter re-blesses the helicopter and crew. In June, the new state of the art EC135 helicopter arrives. This was leased from Bond Air Services. A cycling accident left 17 year-old, Tom Staniford, with similar injuries to those suffered by Ceri Thomas. Tom was airlifted to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Wonford, Exeter. Despite arresting twice in the aircraft he went on to make a full recovery. In May, a second aircraft launches, based in North Devon. The Bolkow 105dbs helicopter is operational five days a week. HRH Princess Anne opens a new airbase shared with Devon and Cornwall Police air support team. In January, the service celebrates the arrival of a purpose built incubator. DAA were the first Air Ambulance to have one, which was funded by corporate supporters. CEO Heléna Holt joins the Charity. The country’s first HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services) dispatch team is created by DAA. It is based at the South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust's (SWASFT) 999 call centre. In May, the second helicopter, based in North Devon extends its service from five to seven days a week. In October, the Charity buys a Eurocopter EC135 helicopter (G-DVAA), which includes customisation of fit. The Exeter-leased aircraft moves to North Devon to replace the older Bolkow aircraft. After being gifted the land for a new North Devon airbase by Barry Pearson of Eaglescott Airfield, trustee Jack Lomas digs the first turf. In January, the Steve Ford airbase is officially opened. The airbase is named after our much-loved pilot Steve Ford, who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. January saw the conclusion of the BBC Radio Devon Air Ambulance Appeal, which exceeds all expectations by raising over £852,000. DAA celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first flight with a special weekend of celebrations at Darts Farm, Exeter. Pictured second left is founder Ann Thomas with DAA team members. In June, flying hours are extended during Summer months – flying up to 14 hours a day. DAA celebrates the 21st anniversary of its first lifesaving mission with a special weekend at Darts Farm, Exeter. In October, the Charity buys its second custom build EC135 (G-DVAA). This aircraft is future-proofed and night-flight ready. In March, the Charity becomes completely independent after being awarded its own Air Operating Certificate (AOC) by the Civil Aviation Authority. Working in partnership with DAA, Plymouth University launches a new Msc Pre-hospital Critical Care/ Transport and Retrieval Masters degree for aircrew. Doctors fly on board for the first time, acting as mentors as part of the Master's degree. 'Make night time flight time' awareness campaign is launched. The first tranche of 20 paramedics pass their first year Msc Pre-hospital Critical Care / Transport and Retrieval Master's degree course. The first community landing site opens. In November, night flying starts - flying up to midnight every day. We celebrate 25 years of saving lives. Devon Air Ambulance lifts 100th patient during the hours of darkness. 100th Community Landing Site goes live. Flying hours extend from midnight to 2am. Devon Air Ambulance is named in The Sunday Times top 100 not for profit companies to work for. In April 2019 Devon Air Ambulance becomes clinically independent. We are awarded 13th place in the Best 100 not-for-profit companies to work for. In March we expand our service with 2 Critical Care Cars. Find out about our future plans: Five Year Strategic Plan.