The first Life Flight® mission took place on August 1, 1976, with an Alouette III helicopter equipped to hold one patient, a pilot, a flight nurse and a surgical resident. They flew three missions that first day, and 45 in the first month. Dr. Red Duke was named as the first medical director of Life Flight, a distinction he still holds today.
By 1978, the fleet had grown to include three Alouettes, each staffed with a three-person crew. Paramedics eventually took the place of physicians on the aircrafts, serving as routine crew members alongside a registered nurse – which is the configuration still used today. Life Flight added a fixed-wing program to fly patients to and from hospitals all over the world in 1979.
In 1983, the Alouette III helicopters were replaced with Twinstars, which were in service until the purchase of three BK117s in 1988. The new aircraft had enough room to transport and care for two patients, as well as rear doors to make loading and unloading patients easier and safer. In 1997, Hermann Hospital merged with the Memorial Hospital System, and Hermann Life Flight became Memorial Hermann Life Flight.
Today, the Life Flight fleet has six state-of-the-art EC-145 twin-engine helicopters, equipped with advanced emergency equipment to help save the lives of those being transported. With more cabin space than the previous aircrafts, the new Life Flight fleet can carry two stretchers in its cabin, along with two medical personnel and one pilot.