Blaise Lewis isn’t the only 10-year-old who wants to be a pilot when he grows up.
But when he’s asked why, he can respond with a truly fantastic story.
Ten years ago on Tuesday, Blaise was born as the plane his mother Eevee Vokins was flying in hit the tarmac at Hawke’s Bay Airport.
Vokins, who was living in Wairoa at the time, went into labour with her third child and stayed at home waiting for labour to progress before heading to Wairoa Hospital.
But once she arrived she was told would have to be sent to Hawke’s Bay Hospital as there were concerns about not having the right doctors at the hospital after previous pregnancy complications.
When a helicopter wasn’t available, a medical plane was sent up to fly Vokins and her sister to Hawke’s Bay Airport to be taken to the hospital.
As she waited for the plane her labour progressed and when on the plane it progressed quickly.
“It was intense, my contractions were just going boom, boom, boom, it didn’t want to stop,” Vokins said.
“I was trying to hold him in, I was like ‘oh no, this baby is coming out, I wanted to wait until I was on the ground, I don’t want to give birth in an airplane’ … but there was just no holding him in.”
The whole experience is “a bit of a blur” and Vokins said her main focus during the flight was waiting until they had landed to give birth.
But Blaise, 3600g (7lb 15oz), had other plans and was born just as the plane was landing at the airport at 6am.
His birth certificate has his place of birth listed as “in transit on the way to Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital”.
A plane midwife and Vokins’ sister supported her while the “amazing” pilot helped keep her calm with updates about how far they were while he flew the plane.
They were met by an ambulance and taken to hospital, where they stayed for one night.
“The whole situation was scary but everyone was really supportive.”
Blaise thinks the story “is absolutely cool” and loves being able to tell people, though he reckons they often don’t believe him.
“He goes through cycles when he’s like ‘I’m going to be a pilot so I can do that’, then he will change what job he wants to be then he goes, ‘no I’m going to be a pilot’.”
“When I first heard [the story] I was like, I must be an airplane kid so I’m going to be a pilot when I’m older,” Blaise said.
Celebrating his 10th birthday on Tuesday, Vokins took to social media to track down the plane pilot for the milestone.
Friends saw the post and got in touch with pilot Sam Love and his wife.
Love, aged about 24 at the time, worked for Skyline Aviation as a pilot with the New Zealand Air Ambulance Service.
He told Hawke’s Bay Today the experience was “amazing” and the first of three births that happened on his aircraft during his time flying for the NZ Air Ambulance Service.
He had received training for the situation when he previously worked at St John Ambulance and said supporting the midwife and Vokins when he had landed the plane helped give him the confidence to support his own wife in labour in the future.
Love works for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Australia, but is planning to meet up with Vokins and Blaise in December when he comes to visit family.
“It’s very special that they still remember that time, because I certainly didn’t forget it.
“I remember her sending a card not long after, thanking us, but touching base after 10 years, that hasn’t ever happened to me and it is very special.”
Blaise, also a “car crazy” kid, celebrated his birthday with a ride in a Tesla and a visit to the airport where he was born. A party with friends is planned for the weekend.
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