STARS History

An image showing the final flight of a BK117 owned by STARS on a snowy day in Edmonton.


Completing our fleet renewal transition, the final operational flight of a BK117 helicopter touches down in December, capping off a legacy of safe and reliable service.

An image showing the first arrival of the new Airbus H145 helicopters in Calgary (LCI and KLY)


After years of planning and anticipation, the first of STARS' H145 fleet arrives in Calgary in April. On July 18, STARS flew its first mission with the helicopter type.

About a dozen people mingle around a red helicopter inside a hangar during a public event.


STARS celebrates 30 years of care in the air and more than 29,000 missions carried out since the nonprofit launched in 1985.

A red five-bladed helicopter in flight overhead


STARS unveils two new donor-funded AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters. The first patient transported by a STARS AW139 is flown in September.

Two STARS crew members in blue flight suits pose with clinically packaged human blood in front of a red helicopter inside a hangar.


STARS' base in Regina becomes the first air medical service in Canada to begin stocking blood to be used for life-saving transfusions on air medical missions. The STARS Blood on Board initiative has since spread this service to all six bases.

A group of 15 people in STARS flight suits pose for a photo next to a red helicopter.


STARS signs a 10-year agreement with the Government of Manitoba to provide helicopter air ambulance from a permanent base in Winnipeg. Bases in Regina and Saskatoon also open.

Two male leaders sit at a table and sign official documents while a third man watches in the background.


The province of Saskatchewan signs an agreement with STARS to establish helicopter air medical service in that province. Andrea Robertson assumes the role of STARS President & CEO.

2009 - STARS sees the first class graduate from the STARS Critical Care and Transport Medicine Academy.

A newspaper clipping with a headline reading 'STARS founder receives Order of Canada honour' with photo showing Dr. Greg Powell receiving a neck adornment from Governor General Michaelle Jean.


Dr. Gregory Powell, STARS founder and Chief Executive Officer, is made an officer in the Order of Canada.

Four STARS crew members lead a stretcher down a ramp at a rural hospital helipad. Cold weather is indicated by snow on the ground and visible breath from the crew members' mouths. A helicopter is parked in the background.


A third base opens in Grande Prairie, Alberta, on November 1. Within one year, crews fly over 116 missions in Peace Country from this base.

Closeup of a STARS pilot's face wherein the eyes are covered by night vision goggles connected to the helmet and a microphone with a green light


STARS is the first civilian air carrier to use night-vision goggles (NVG) technology in Canada, carrying out a mission from southeastern Alberta to Calgary using NVG technology.

A red STARS helicopter with outdated decaling flies overhead


STARS is requested to be the air medical provider for the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta. Also, STARS surpasses the 10,000-mission milestone.

2001 - The International Association of Air Medical Services names STARS the recipient of its prestigious Program of the Year award. STARS is the first international and first Canadian program to receive this honour.

Two STARS crew members work with a human patient simulator near a computer monitor that looks to be from the mid-1990s.


The Human Patient Simulator program is established through the support of Lions International Multiple District 37 and Lockerbie & Hole. The Chain of Survival Fund is established to provide community emergency service providers with financial assistance for medical equipment and training needs.

1998 - STARS receives full accreditation as an international critical­ care provider from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS).

Five people ceremoniously cut ribbon inside a pair of open doors within a facility.


The STARS Emergency Link Centre is established with funding received from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.


STARS establishes the first helicopter air ambulance program in Nova Scotia under a five-year contract. STARS exits the province in 2001.

A bear mascot stands next to a Calgary Tower mascot and with three local celebrities in a visibly dated photo


STARBEAR, the official mascot of STARS, is born.

A red and blue helicopter sits on a hospital helipad as a crew member walks behind with the rear doors open


STARS' Edmonton base is established and carries out its first mission in October. STARS is awarded rotary and fixed-wing air medical ambulance contracts for Edmonton and Calgary.

An archival photos shows an overhead view of emergency service vehicles and representatives posing for a shot, including a STARS helicopter in the centre.


STARS receives formal recognition as an essential service when the organization is integrated into emergency planning for the Calgary Olympic Winter Games.

A white helicopter bearing the logo of Lions Club International is parked on tarmac


The rotary air ambulance program, initially named Lions Air Ambulance Service, is established, and the first mission is flown in December to transport a critically ill infant to tertiary care in Calgary.