Our History


Since its inception, Mercy Flight has been independent of any hospital, delivering patients to the facility that will best suit their medical needs by working closely with the regional network of hospitals, ground EMS, law enforcement, and fire authorities.  In 1981, Douglas H. Baker, owner and operator of LaSalle Ambulance, had a vision to assist more patients in need.  Mr. Baker approached several individuals within the healthcare field at the time to jump on board, but due to the immaturity of EMS as a whole, they felt current practices in place were sufficient.  Mr. Baker remained dedicated to his mission and found Sister Sheila Marie Walsh, Dr. Matthew Burke, Dr. James Ehinger who shared his vision of providing air medical services to the communities of Western New York.  Mercy Flight was established as the pioneer air-medical service in New York State and one of the first operations like it in the United States.  It began operations from one base in Buffalo, 12 hours a day, utilizing one leased 206B Jet Ranger helicopter (N902EH) staffed by two pilots and three LaSalle Ambulance Paramedics.

1989 - The 206B Jet Ranger (N902EH) is replaced by a Bell Long Ranger (N201N).

1991 - First twin-engine helicopter placed in service.  The Eurocopter BO-105 (N505TJ) provided greater power, speed, range, reliability and eliminated weight limitations of a single-engine aircraft.  This began Mercy Flight's commitment to twin-engine aircraft.

1993 - Mercy Flight acquires a second BO-105.

1998 - Mercy Flight expands to the Southern Tier using a BO-105 heliocopter at the newly constructed Louis Magnano Mercy Flight Heliport on the Olean General Hospital campus.

2001 - A third BO-105 is added to the fleet.

2006 - Batavia operations began at the Genesee County Airport through a partnership with the New York State Police utilizing their helicopter and our Paramedics.

2007 - The first BK-117 is added to the fleet.

2008 - Mercy Flight moved into its first permanent home at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport following a renovation of the existing "Flying Tigers" building and the construction of a brand new hangar to serve as the flight operations center.

2009 - September 1, Mercy EMS is a newly formed division of Mercy Flight to provide ambulance service to the residents of Genesee County and United Memorial Medical Center.

2010 - Mercy Flight institutes a Night Vision Goggle program.

2011 - Mercy Flight acquires its very first brand new helicopter - a state-of-the-art Bell 429.  We also begin to upgrade our aging fleet from BO-105s to BK-117s.

2014 - Mercy Flight WNY, Mercy Flight Central, and Starflight formed the FLIGHTS coalition aimed at advocating community-based air medical transportation by pooling their resources and educating the public and first responders about the service itself and its value to the community.

2015 - September 23, Mercy EMS begins operations in the Village of Springville and Town of Concord and for Bertrand Chaffee hospital under temporary operating authority in response to an emergency need determined by the Town, Village and hospital.  Mercy EMS increases the availability of dedicated resources to virtually 100%.

2016 - January 7, Mercy EMS was selected as the contracted primary provider of ambulance service for the Village of Springville with additional coverage to the Town of Concord.

2016 - August 15, Mercy EMS begins operations in the Town of Niagara under temporary operating authority in response to an emergency need determined by the Town.  Mercy EMS increases the availability of dedicated resources to virtually 100%.

Today - Mercy Flight remains one of the last few not-for-profit providers of air and ground medical transport services.  All other agencies are for-profit organizations or operated by hospitals.  Mercy Flight celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing unparalleled service to the communities with conducting over 25,000 patient missions.  Mercy Flight continues its mission from several bases with numerous professional medical providers, pilots, aircraft mechanics, communications specialists, administrative staff and management personnel that provides the necessary support for our operations.