Graphic: Sam Love's family
RFDS Senior Pilot Sam Love, his wife Chantel, and their five children took the leap and moved to Australia from New Zealand in search for a lifestyle change.
Sam was a Pilot for the New Zealand Air Ambulance Service, Chantel was a Flight Nurse for the New Zealand Air Ambulance Service and Emergency Nurse at the local hospital; together they would transfer patients across the North, South and surrounding islands.
After more than a decade of living and breathing the job, they decided it was time to make their dream of moving to Australia and living in a quiet, remote town a reality.
“Chantel was offered a job at the hospital in Mount Isa, and I picked up a job working for a local charter company – which ended up being the company that flew RFDS clinic doctors and nurses around,” Sam said.
“I spent almost a year flying clinic runs and quickly got to know the RFDS pilots, doctors and nurses.
“I loved the clinic stops because I got to spend valuable time with the community.”
It wasn’t long before word had spread around town about Sam and his aviation experience from New Zealand.
“I was walking through the street, and somebody came over to grab me and said the RFDS CEO Meredith Staib wants to meet you,” he said.
“This was when I first met all of the senior people from RFDS, and four to five months later I became an RFDS Pilot.”
Since joining the RFDS family Sam has completed countless flights across Queensland and has been promoted to Senior Pilot at the RFDS Mount Isa Base.
He works closely with our doctors and nurses to complete aeromedical transfers across the state, primarily in the north Queensland region.
“I love the variety and the specialised work that we do out here,” Sam said.
“We could be tasked in the middle of the night to a place we have never been before, and it makes us thrive.
“It’s all about the things we have to quickly consider - can we get there with the fuel that we have? What is the weather doing? Do we have lighting to land at night? Is the airstrip suitable?
"The challenge energises me."
Sam is one of the many RFDS Pilots who have become experienced conducting night landings in the outback with the use of lanterns, flares or diesel drenched toilet rolls to form an emergency runway.
“A memorable landing which stands out for me is when we were on our way north to a non-urgent tasking with a Doctor and a Flight Nurse on board and we received a call about an unconscious person at a station at midnight,” Sam said.
“We didn’t know exactly where that station was, I had never heard of it before, but I knew roughly which direction it was, so I turned around and started heading in the easterly direction towards this location.
“But when I looked up the information on this airstrip it turned out it didn’t have any airstrip lights.
“So, we rang them and asked what they had to light an airstrip for us and all they had was dunny rolls.
“Over the phone, while we were talking to them, we had the privilege of actually seeing them light dunny rolls with diesel and lining them up for us.
“When you know there’s somebody on the ground who really needs us, the community will do whatever it takes to help us get on the ground.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.”
While Sam spends a lot of his time in the air on rescue missions, he continuously strives to create a work/home balance to embrace the quiet and remote lifestyle they always dreamed of.
“I am a family man and if it wasn’t for my family, I wouldn’t be with the RFDS,” Sam said.
“They are the backbone of what I do.”
Sam and his family have lived in Mount Isa for five and half years now and love it.