He has had a job in the sky since 1983 - the past eight of those years with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. But on Friday, Richard Nest retired.
Mr Nest began his career as a helicopter pilot in the Navy, where he spent a decade, before working overseas in places such as the Middle East, Africa and Papua New Guinea.
But it was in the mid-90s that his career took a turn and he became an air ambulance pilot - first with Careflight and then with the Westpac chopper.
Mr Nest, the Westpac service's training and checking pilot, said it was the opportunity to be "giving a service back to the community" that made him to switch to air ambulance work.
"When you're in the military or working for commercial organisations, you're just working for a profit or you're training to go to war or something like that," he said.
"The purpose behind the job is quite different. But also the challenges that are out there from a pilot's perspective [working in air ambulance], you never know what job is going to come in day-to-day so you can utilise a range of your different skills."
Mr Nest said one of the most memorable jobs in which he had been involved - though not in a pleasant way - came during his first week working in the Hunter Region.
His daughter's babysitter had been in a serious car crash. She survived but suffered a head injury.
"It definitely strengthens your resolve," he said.
"Going to those serious accidents, it highlights the importance of the helicopter and what we do.
"That's when the realisation that you really are saving a life comes home."
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN OTHER NEWS:
- Prolific Merewether heroin supplier 'ran his drug operation like a legitimate business'
- Flight risk: Police, doctors screen passengers from Melbourne at Newcastle Airport
- Minister signals trial for new restaurant, bar alcohol rules
- Toohey's News, the Podcast: Darren Mooney was the wizard behind the curtain at the Newcastle Knights