The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has provided many challenges, not least for the NHS.

For its part the UK Civil Air Patrol has risen to this challenge with the provision to the NHS of an express air transport delivery service in conjunction with the British Blood Bike despatch riders.

These single-pilot air transport flights, which are fully compliant with the rules for social distancing, have delivered a wide range of time critical cargoes, including parts for medical ventilators, coronavirus test kits, medical samples, medicines and personal protective equipment throughout the United Kingdom, from the Channel Islands in the south to the Outer Hebrides in the north.

The two most recent flights have carried time-critical bacterial treatments from the University of Birmingham Microbiome Treatment Centre (MTC) to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

After a collection from Birmingham at 8am by Julian Green of the Midland Freewheelers Blood Bikes, there was a window of just four hours and 30 minutes to deliver the drugs to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

Flying his Piper PA-28 from Halfpenny Green Airport, Civil Air Patrol pilot Oliver Hogan landed at Perranporth airfield at 10.55am, from where John Green of the Cornwall Blood Bikes rushed the medicines to the hospital to easily meet the deadline for delivery.

This flight was coordinated at Halfpenny Green by UK Civil Air Patrol chief executive, Jeff Smith and the airport operations manager, Brian Rawlings, and at Perranporth by Civil Air Patrol pilot, Carl Beardmore, who is also a member of Falmouth RNLI.

Read more: Falmouth lifeboatman takes to the air to deliver vital kit

In an earlier flight, following a very similar route, UK Civil Air Patrol pilot Roger Bell flew his Beech Bonanza, with the appropriate registration, G-HOPE, from Halfpenny Green to Newquay Airport, the former RAF St Mawgan, to deliver a further batch of the bacterial treatment from the University of Birmingham MCT to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

This flight took just one hour and 11 minutes.

Following these two rapid air transport flights to support the NHS, flown in conjunction with British Blood Bike despatch riders, commonly referred to as the ‘Pony Express’, the chief executive of the UK Civil Air Patrol in England and Wales, Jeff Smith, said: “These two flights have opened up a new chapter in the development of the Civil Air Patrol in the United Kingdom.

"These very successful time critical flights, delivering drugs with a finite shelf life, means that the whole of the United Kingdom is now within the delivery range of the University of Birmingham Microbiome Treatment Centre.

"Without doubt, this is a real game changer for the NHS and, in particular, for the University of Birmingham MCT.

"Very well done to all those who were involved in these life-saving missions.”