TWO Coast Guard pilots have made Irish aviation history by flying the first all-female mission for the service.
The Shannon-based search and rescue Helicopter R115 flew its first missions with a female pilot and co-pilot, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick and Capt Carmel Kirby.
Capt Fitzpatrick is the chief pilot for rescue 117 at the Waterford base and was on transfer to Shannon to build up flying hours on the new Sikorski S92, which is due to replace the S61 in Waterford in mid-September.
"This was a historic occasion for the Coast Guard as this was the first all-female SAR helicopter crew and they carried out two missions on their shift," said a Coast Guard spokesman.
During the mission, the duo flew a cardiac patient from west Cork to Cork University Hospital before transferring a critically-ill five-year-old child from the hospital to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin.
The work of the pilots has been the busiest ever this year.
Coast Guard helicopter missions have increased by 45pc so far this year as crews dealt with an increase in weather-related incidents and flew more medical missions, the agency has said.
The country's four helicopter crews flew 1,572 missions by the end of July this year.
The number of rescues of people on jet skis grew by 340pc as more people took to the water during the hot weather in July.
The rescues of swimmers rose by 68pc, persons on the shoreline by 54pc, canoes by 146pc, angling craft by 44pc and sailing vessels by 40pc.
"The other main contributory factor has been the aeromedical service to the HSE now on trial with the Coast Guard helicopters. Air ambulance missions are up 925pc to 123," said a Coast Guard spokesman.