Helo Days logo
Great North Air Ambulance helicopter ascending off grass meadow

What colour is an Air Ambulance helicopter

Curious to know what colour are air ambulances is fun to know for yourself, or perhaps the child in the familiar want to know.

There is no single colour of an air ambulance in the UK, as no one of the 23 charities use identical schemes. Most popular base colour is red or yellow, that is then broken up with an additional colour. On top of that, a checkered pattern could be used, as well has the charity name printed on the fuselage.

People will often assume you seen one air ambulance you've seen them all. In fact no air ambulance is the same in terms of type of helicopter in use or colour theme.

Up to 23 air ambulance charities serve the whole of the UK, and with that comes a type of helicopter that is different to the next.

What makes it different is the colours or patterns used to make it appear as a medical helicopter - similar to a road ambulance or police car.

No air ambulance service in the UK use a single colour scheme.

While the pattern or design can be identical, its not in terms of colour uses which is designed to only be associated with one region - or more than one county - in the UK.

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance ascends into the air after attending a medical emergency on a council estate in Essex.

Much like the helicopter used by Essex & Herts Air Ambulance service for example; the use of the helicopter type is sometimes not a model people know.

Not true for the people of Essex and Hertfordshire as the sight of this Leonardo AW169 is completely normal.

Let's get on with helping you recognise the colour schemes used by nationwide air ambulance services, starting with this useful colour scheme table you've created for you.

Colour scheme table

Charity: Where to see it: Colour Scheme:
Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex Kent, Surrey, Sussex Black, White or Black,Turquoise
Cornwall Air Ambulance Cornwall White, Red
Children's Air Ambulance Nationwide Lime Green, Grey
Devon Air Ambulance Devon Red, Blue
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Dorset, Somerset Yellow
East Anglian Air Ambulance East Anglia Yellow
Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Essex, Herfordshire Red, Yellow Markings
Great North Air Ambulance Cumbria, North Yorkshire, North East White, Green with Yellow
Great Western Air Ambulance Bristol, North Somerset, Bath, North East Somerset, Gloucestershire Lime Green, Blue
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Hampshire and Isle of Wight Yellow, Lime Green
Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire Yellow
London's Air Ambulance London Red, Yellow Markings
Magpas Air Ambulance East of England Orange, White, Green Stripe
Midlands Air Ambulance Midlands Red, Yellow Markings
Northern Ireland Air Ambulance Northern Ireland Red, White Markings
North West Air Ambulance Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside Yellow, Blue Markings
Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance Scotland Yellow w/ Green, Blue
Scottish Air Ambulance Scotland Yellow
The Air Ambulance Service Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Warwickshireshire, Northamptonshire Yellow, Grey
Thames Valley Air Ambulance Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Red, Yellow Markings
Wales Air Ambulance Wales Red, or with Green Markings
Wiltshire Air Ambulance Wiltshire & Nearby Counties Yellow, Green
Yorkshire Air Ambulance Yorkshire and the Humber Yellow

Purpose of air ambulance colours

Have you ever wondered why air ambulance helicopter are often finished in bright, vibrant colours, then here's why that is.

Much like an ambulance, police car or fire truck that drives on the road, a medical helicopter also needs to be distinguished as such.

For sure it does not need to be seen on the road, so why bother; as you'll find out that could not be further from the truth.

Air Ambulances are often reflective so motorists can see it when it does indeed land on the road - in case of a medical emergency.

It also helps other medical staff know that it is an air ambulance.

No statement to make with there bright, vibrate colour scheme; but much like there road counterparts - air ambulances must be recognised as such.

Charity colour schemes

Allow me to do the honourable thing by helping you recognise air ambulance helicopters operating in UK by including a picture of every model in use, with a description.

Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex

Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex helicopter

Air ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex have chosen a colour not like other services within the UK - instead picking a more turquoise colour.

They're also a charity who operate two types of helicopters with both offering a different colour scheme.

While the two Leonardo AW169 helicopters are finished in the turquoise colour - if that's what you call it - their MD 902 has more of a familiar finish.

The MD 902 is primarily finished in white with a black underbelly; well a green/orange checkered pattern separating the two models.

Three colours make up the two Leonardo AW169 helicopters in use, so while its more recognised in the turquoise scheme - there's also black and white.

Cornwall Air Ambulance

Cornwall Air Ambulance helicopter

Not a colour scheme I would pick if is was a road ambulance, but still a model that can be recognised as one.

Cornwall Air Ambulance have chosen a more subtle colour that is not too vibrant, bright or shell I say it, reflective.

Helicopter cabin body is finished in a plain white with the underside painted in at least, a more bright red theme.

Separating those colours is a bold yellow marking, including a distinctive yellow stripe on the underside and tail wings.

Insignia helps break up the bold colours and does make the colour scheme stand out some more.

Children's Air Ambulance

Children's Air Ambulance helicopter

Unmistakable colours of the Children's Air Ambulance can only mean poorly children are in transport, or been dropped off previously.

Three Children's Air Ambulance Leonardo AW169 helicopters can be noticed from the lime green finish that lines across much of the body.

Its broken up with a think grey stripe on the rear/tail end as well has a black finish that wraps itself around the windows and doors.

Not an emergency helicopter in terms of attending roadside accidents, etc - but more a transporter of children throughout the UK.

Therefore, the colour scheme doe not have to concentrate on bright colours to be seen.

Devon Air Ambulance

Devon Air Ambulance helicopter

What colour is Devon air ambulance? Well certainly a colour that cannot be mistaken for belonging to Devon Air Ambulance - that's for sure.

Chosen colour theme for their two Airbus H135 helicopter models is a bold red making up most of the body shell.

That is combined with a bolder, dark blue colour scheme that is finished on the underside, topside, skids, bottom tail end and around the windows.

You won't mistake this Devon Air Ambulance belonging to another charity that's for sure.

To help break up those two main colours on the body, the scheme allows for white insignia on the red.

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance helicopter

I don't quite recognise plain yellow ambulances - yet alone air ambulances - as a scheme that helps to promote the charity.

Yellow only helicopters are used throughout the helicopter services industry, so it could be mistaken for other uses.

Here it is nevertheless a Leonardo AW169 which is finished in yellow only, but still a bright colour.

Black insignia helps breakup the single colour with only a hard to see, subtle green/white checkered pattern on the side.

No mixed colours can be seen on the underside, well the charity crest printed on the tail end is a hard one to see.

East Anglian Air Ambulance

East Anglian Air Ambulance helicopter

East Anglian Air Ambulance have also chosen the yellow only scheme, but in a way can be recognised an an air ambulance.

Why that might be is in my opinion that the Airbus H145 helicopter I consider more to be an air ambulance.

Its also helped with a striking red - appearing to be a heart monitor - stripe that goes through the length of the body.

Black and white checkered patterns help break up the yellow and can be seen on the top and near to the underside.

Insignia on the yellow is hard to see, but that could be due to the thin, small font chosen.

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance helicopter

Essex & Herts have two air ambulances in their fleet and rightly so chosen to finish them both in the same colour scheme.

That is a bold, bright red that is broken up with help of a alternate yellow/red stripe near to the rear of the helicopter.

It sure stands out more on the Leonardo AW169 as its a larger helicopter, and a little less so on their MD 902.

White insignia on the red body does not stand out; unlike that of their call sign in black that can be seen clearly - which it has to for legal reasons.

Unmistakable colour scheme I do recognise as an air ambulance for sure.

Great North Air Ambulance

Great North Air Ambulance helicopter

Only air ambulance charity in the UK to pick a colour scheme that can only be associated with Great North Air Ambulance.

Sure the colours have been used together with other services, but looks heck of a lot different on one of their three Airbus AS365 Dauphin helicopters.

What the charity have chosen is primarily a white body that is broken in two with a green scheme on the underside.

Separating those colours is a bold yellow stripe that runs along the whole fuselage.

No checkered scheme but it must be said the use of printing the charity name well small, does stand out somewhat.

Great Western Air Ambulance

Great Western Air Ambulance helicopter

Wow, what an amazing colour scheme the Great Western Air Ambulance charity have selected for their helicopter fleet.

Certainly not a colour theme associated with air ambulances, but I can certainly get on board this time.

For starters its finished primarily in a bright lime green that helps it stand out as a helicopter for medical use.

Its then broken up with a dark blue that makes up most if its underside. This is sure one of my favourite air ambulance colour schemes so far.

The charity name can be clearly seen as its a white colour font on a dark background - of which many charities pay no attention too.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance helicopter

Breaking down that bold yellow that usually covers air ambulances in the UK, is a nice use of second colour.

That bright green really helps make this helicopter stand out as an air ambulance, not often used on the popular Airbus H135.

Care has been taken into making sure the markings in terms of the charity name is seen with a white font on the much darker green backing.

Yellow scheme is mostly seen on the top half, well the green can be seen on the bottom, and underneath the helicopter.

Excellent use of a colour scheme allowing for markings to be seen clearly.

Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance

Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance helicopter

Two distincts possibilities people will assume when seeing this air ambulance is first; its a type of helicopter model not commonly used, and secondly, the only colour yellow.

Leonardo AW169 is the model in use and not one that is used a lot in the UK.

I don't like single bold colours, more so when its only finished in yellow which is not helped with it being such a large helicopter.

Nevertheless, people of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire will know it as such; but won't allow for tight, limited space landings in an emergency call out.

Reason for my dislike of yellow is that the insignia or charity name is hard to see unless a dark colour font is used, which it happens to not be.

London's Air Ambulance

London's Air Ambulance helicopter

Capitals air ambulance service relies on two MD 902, and for sure are one of the best, and most recognised air ambulance colour themes in the UK.

That's further helped by making use of the MD 902 helicopter which really does appear to be a medical use helicopter model.

Finished in a bold, bright red, London's Air Ambulance is broken up a little with the help of a checkered design.

That design is a yellow and what I think is a green/turquoise colour that makes it appear to be a road ambulance.

For sure, the insignia is not seen well because it is printed small, but if it was any bigger people would see the writing on the wall - so to speak.

Magpas Air Ambulance

Magpas Air Ambulance helicopter

If my memory serves me correct, the colour scheme of the Magpas Air Ambulance is not seen anywhere else in the UK - perhaps even the world.

The Leonardo AW169 helicopter is finished in an orange, white, orange alternated scheme with a stripe of green separating the colours.

White cross with line green backing cross marking on the tail can be seen so people know its an air ambulance.

But its the charity name on the tail end that can be seen.

Not be any means will I associate the colour scheme as something people in the wider community would know as an air ambulance - but it really does work.

Midlands Air Ambulance

Midlands Air Ambulance helicopter

I am more familiar with the colour scheme of the Midlands Air Ambulance over all other charities in the UK for one simple reason - this is basically the charity that serves me.

Growing up in Hereford I would see colours of this helicopter knowing it was an air ambulance, which is verified as I have seen many landings over the years - as people do.

Now operating the Airbus H145 or Airbus H135, these types of helicopters are not the same ones used when I was younger.

However, its that strong, bold red I know its an air ambulance with the subtle markings of the bright yellow.

None of the insignia or print can be seen, but as most people know who live locally, everyone can recognise it is an air ambulance.

Northern Ireland Air Ambulance

Northern Ireland Air Ambulance helicopter

Until I recently wrote this piece of what colour is the air ambulance, I never realised the exact scheme is used across other charities.

I know my Midlands Air Ambulance so I knew right away the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance service also has adopted the scheme.

Its that thin line or stripe that indicates a heart monitor that I recognise; only its white this time and not the yellow I see once in a while.

Saying all that, I know there's a third air ambulance charity that uses the Airbus H135 here someone who also use this same theme.

Only this charity have gone for the bold red colour with stand out insignia.

North West Air Ambulance

North West Air Ambulance helicopter

Original colour scheme that takes the bold colour of the yellow and breaks it down with help of the bold blue.

The Airbus H135 helicopter has a blue tail end with the rest of the fuselage making use of the standard yellow shade.

What else this charity make use of is the important checkered patterns which is seen on the underside of the helicopter.

That pattern alone will help you recognise the helicopter as an air ambulance.

Furthermore, the bold yellow marking up most of the body makes use of a stripe pattern to help create the illusion of an air ambulance.

Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance

Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance helicopter

Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance service make well use of a colour theme that helps break up a single yellow scheme.

So its done so using a unique pattern of a lime green that fades in to spots as it approaches the yellow body.

Bright yellow body really helps the thick bold black charity name stand out on the side, which is often overlooked.

Airbus H135 is the helicopter in use, and if you've paid any attention thus far; you'll know its a model that is primarily used by UK air ambulance services.

Scotland has two charities serving the country with a very similar colour scheme.

Scottish Air Ambulance

Scottish Air Ambulance helicopter

Extremely bright yellow fuselage of the Scottish Air Ambulances' Airbus H145 helicopter can only be recognised as one.

Usually I am not for single, bold colour for an air ambulance - and especially that in yellow - as it could be mistaken for other services.

But its thanks to the Airbus H145 model in use that people will know its for medical use.

Not much tell in respects to recognising it as an air ambulance, except perhaps the green stripe through the side.

On top of that, its helped with markings standing out very well in a big dark print.

The Air Ambulance Service

The Air Ambulance Service helicopter

Absolutely not a helicopter model you would associate as an air ambulance in the UK, but here is the Leonardo AW109SP - and there are two of them.

Primarily finished in a bold, yet making a statement yellow finish that is stripped down a little with a light grey.

Large helicopter so the charity name - or should I say what it is - Air Ambulance wording is printed along the side.

The grey marking is wrapped around the rear end of the helicopter yet only the yellow part can be seen underneath.

No other air ambulance charity in the UK use the Leonardo AW109SP helicopter.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Thames Valley Air Ambulance helicopter

Finally, an air ambulance colour theme I can get onboard with, and a scheme that I truly associate as an emergency helicopter.

Its first finished in the classic bold red that makes up most of the theme; yet that is broken up in a bold, bright yellow/turquoise checkered colour.

Most of which can be seen from the sides but a focus is made on the underside so people know the air ambulance is approaching, so be sure to allow it space.

Further supporting the scheme is a cross associated with hospitals, then there's the white print on the bold red.

Which is big enough to see and not distracting with other insignia on the body.

Wales Air Ambulance

Wales Air Ambulance helicopter

Charity that operates an Airbus H145 and H135; the organisation have chosen primarily a red colour scheme.

This is broken up with a bright green in patches - and without doing any checking - what appears to be a dragon's tail - which happens to be a lovely touch I might say.

Colour theme does appear to be what an air ambulance should be; standing out as a medical helicopter.

Mind you, not much can be said for the insignia that is printed on the sides, so there's no telling what charity is belongs to - only assuming its the Wales Air Ambulance.

Welsh language makes up most of the signs along with the English translation.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Wiltshire Air Ambulance helicopter

Often people not in the know can recognise an air ambulance from its colours and the type of helicopter in use.

Not in the case of Wiltshire Air Ambulance as they have gone for a colour scheme well not that unusual - the Bell 429 helicopter model sure is.

So well the helicopter is finished in a bright yellow, its broken up in two by using a bright - should I say lime green - bold colour on the bottom half.

Its then seen with a single stripe with a green finish on the front of the helicopter.

No mistaking this air ambulance as anything else as the name can be clearly seen in huge, black letters - on the right side.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance

Yorkshire Air Ambulance helicopter

Charity that does not go beyond a flat, yet bright yellow scheme that can be recognised as an air ambulance - which is a Airbus H145 helicopter.

Often you will see two colours, a checkered pattern or anything to breakup the colour, but not here.

For sure, its helped a little by the black markings but that doesn't help to distinguish it has an air ambulance.

Lots of insignia on this model with a web site, the charity name, call sign and even a sponsor will help draw the eye away from any hints of an air ambulance.

Only hint that will help observers know that it is one, is the Airbus H145 helicopter type.

Summary

While air ambulances in the UK have no one single pattern, the colour scheme can overlap between charities but are rarely identical.

What colours are used per air ambulance charities depends on the regions they serve.

It begins with a bold base colour before an additional colour is introduced to help break up the otherwise dull theme.

Its then often mixed up using checkered pattern you'll associate with emergency road vehicles.

Colours used are to help the model of helicopter in use stand out as an air ambulance, so other medical staff know its carrying patients.

Share this article: