A FORMER nurse who is now a helicopter pilot is among the military team working in North Yorkshire assisting the NHS.

As part of the Ministry of Defence’s Aviation Task Force the RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps helicopters are based around the UK as part of the Government’s response to coronavirus.

RAF Leeming is the temporary home to 659 Squadron 1 Regiment Army Air Corps’ aircrew and its support team. This is an aviation recce regiment which comprises of ground crew, aviation communications, signallers, survival equipment fitters and clerks.

Its Wildcat helicopters are busy covering the North of England and Scotland, ferrying both equipment and staff to NHS centres including the new Nightingale hospitals and other existing medical facilities.

One of the recce pilots is Captain Maddie Pizzoni, who trained as a nurse prior to serving in the Army and now has a different, but equally important, role to play in the response.

She said: “I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a little conflicted at the moment having trained as a nurse as to where my skills best lie.

“I’ve got good friends and colleagues that I used to work with who are currently having a really difficult time working their socks off for the NHS.”

Last week, they were part of the aerial tribute to Captain Tom Moore. Whilst aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, including a Spitfire and Hurricane, were the RAF’s more widely-publicised tribute, the Army Air Corps helicopters conducted a separate flypast.

Accompanied by an Apache helicopter they flew over the veteran fundraiser’s home on his 100th birthday.

The crew included Capt Pizzoni's fellow pilot Staff Sergeant Retief Uys, whose wife is a care worker.