We are often asked this question, so why not turn it into a creative lesson?

The simple answer to the question is: we chose a colour that can be easily seen and recognised. A little online research will show you that other Air Ambulances use a variety of colours - all of them visible from on the ground.

What are red helicopters used for?

The colour red is often found in nature and is used by animals as a warning, partly because it stands out effectively against a green background. We also associate red with danger because it is the colour of blood. Some animals, like elephants, react strongly to the colour red, perhaps because they associate it with injury.

In the UK we use red as a warning sign, particular in our traffic signs to connote hazards. This isn't universal though - in China yellow and black are used for warning signs.

Although at Devon Air Ambulance we use a red helicopter to deliver urgent critical care to patients on scene, red helicopters can be used for all sorts of different services around the world, often to do with lifesaving, such as coast guards or mountain rescue. For us, red signifies urgency, and because getting the specialist critical care to a patient who needs us is what our service is for we thought red would be a good colour for our aircraft.

Something fun to do at home or at school

Use this line drawing of the air ambulance to help. If you like you can invert the image so that the helicopter faces the other way. 

Here are some other questions to think about when you are making your own helicopter:

  • Which colours and designs do other helicopters have?
  • Try out different colours to see which are easily seen. Do they look good?
  • Try more than one colour to create a recognisable design or dynamic look.
  • The armed forces have helicopters. What colours do they use? A) Grey so they are not easily seen or recognised, or you can try out camouflage.
  • What colours, designs or logos do police helicopters use?
  • Design a helicopter in your school’s colours.
  • Design a helicopter that explores colours, logos, and different motifs.

Are you interested in a schools talk from us? Find out more 

Pictured above: One of two Devon Air Ambulances at a community landing site.