Helicopter pilot who helped save Top Gear host retires from job

THE pilot who flew BBC presenter Richard Hammond to hospital after his high-speed crash has retired after a decade with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Capt Steve Cobb has flown hundreds of missions for the charity but none as high profile as the 2006 rescue of the Top Gear host who was fighting for his life after sustaining serious head injuries in a 280mph jet car crash at Elvington Airfield near York.

The father-of-two made a full recovery, in large part because of the speed he was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary.

Mr Cobb, 59, said: “The Richard Hammond incident was certainly the one that generated the most interest, although it was actually one of the easiest jobs I’ve done.

“But landing on that airfield ended up being one of the biggest events for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance – leading to enough money being raised to put a deposit down for our second helicopter, G-CEMS.”

Mr Cobb, who recently moved to Scarborough from Scholes, Cleckheaton, is now enjoying his retirement with wife Christine walking and cycling on the Yorkshire coast.

“The overriding thing that sticks with you from the job is how quickly your life can change.

“One minute you’re doing something completely normal and the next, because of something out of the ordinary, it can be over. It certainly makes you appreciate life.

“It’s been amazing meeting those people who want to come back and say ‘thank you’ for what we’ve done for them – people are so grateful for what the air ambulance does and it has been very special to work for a charity that is so appreciated and valued.”