Peninsula Ambulance Service


Key Facts

Current Title:
Peninsula Ambulance Service
English Title:
Peninsula Ambulance Service
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

The Peninsula Ambulance Service established the first full-time dedicated helicopter air ambulance service in Australia. The Bell 206A JetRanger was brought to Australia in December 1970 by Bill Vowell, the owner of a Tyabb-based helicopter company, and fitted out as an air ambulance, but wasn’t assigned its first medical emergency until March 1971. Manned by local paramedics it operated out of Tyabb Airfield on the Mornington Peninsula, just south of Melbourne. Initial operations were successful and in March 1972 a formal contract for continued operation was agreed. The helicopter soon became known as the Angel of Mercy.

In late 1985 a State Government-commissioned review of Ambulance services recommended that the PAS helicopter service be closed down and that combined Police and Ambulance use of the existing Police helicopter would be more effective. Accordingly, the PAS helicopter was withdrawn in March 1986 and the service closed.

Key Dates

December 1970 Helicopter delivered.
March 1971 First medical mission flown.
March 1972 Formal lease contract with PAS agreed.
late 1985 State Government committee recommends closure of PAS helicopter operation.
March 1986 Operations cease.

Current Status

The PAS helicopter service ceased operation in March 1986.

Future Plans

Not applicable.


Special Markings

The PAS helicopter originally flew in a white and blue colour scheme, with a red Maltese Cross on the rotor fairing. PENINSULA AMBULANCE SERVICE titles were displayed on the lower fuselage and a Vowell Air Services logo on the rear fuselage. A new mainly white colour scheme, with red ‘dashed’ cheatlines along the fuselage and tail boom was later introduced. The PENINSULA AMBULANCE SERVICE titles were moved to the rear fusealage. ‘Angel of Mercy’ titles and a red Maltese Cross appeared on the rotor fairing.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

The PAS helicopter carried an Australian civil aircraft registration, i.e. Bell 206A VH-AAL.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Not applicable.

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Retirement Origin
Bell 206A JetRanger 1 1971 1985 contractor
Bell 206L LongRanger 1 1985 1986 contractor

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

None known.


Main Headquarters

Peninsula Ambulance Service, Frankston, VIC.

Organisational Structure

No subordinate units.

Current Unit Assignments

No subordinate units.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

Not applicable.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

The PAS helicopter was based at Tyabb Airfield on the Mornington Peninsula, VIC.

More Information


None known.


None known.


Angel of Mercy

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.


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