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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Sky-high paramedic touches down
Air ambulance
The air ambulance costs 70,000 a month to operate

An intrepid Teesside-based paramedic has returned to the UK after making an unusual journey for charity.

Jon Ker flew to the most northerly part of mainland Norway, in a microlight aircraft, to raise funds for the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAA), which costs 1m a year to run.

His journey took him across 220 miles of North Sea to the Arctic Circle.

He is hoping that when all donations are in he will have raised 10,000 in sponsorship money.

The ambulance helicopter service was brought in to service in March 2003, and is supported by the generosity of local people and donations from the business community.

'Nervous wreck'

Mr Ker 34, from Rothbury, Northumberland, said: "It is good to be back after three weeks of flying, being tossed around for six or seven hours a day.

"The most memorable moment was flying along the west coast of Norway, which was quite intimidating.

"If anything would have happened to the aircraft it would have gone into the water. After a few days you had to forget about the water down below or you would have been a nervous wreck.

"There were a couple of days when the weather was really bad, with rain and thunder storms at the end of fjords, and I knew I had to turn into one of these fjords to find a landing place nearby."

African plan

His intrepid journey took him to the Shetland Islands, then on to Norway, the Russian border, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Holland and back to the UK.

He said if he was to make another fund-raising flight it would be to somewhere in Africa.

The new GNAA aircraft is based at Blyth in Northumberland, while the older one has been switched to Teesside.

Both are operated seven days a week and bring 80% of the region's population within reach of air ambulance assistance.

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