“Salute Excellence”

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Rotor Spring 2009 - Rotor®Magazine





HAI’s 48th Annual Awards Celebration

For 48 years, the Helicopter Association International’s “Salute to Excellence” Awards Celebration has

recognized outstanding achievements in the international helicopter community. HAI’s “Salute to Excellence”

Awards Celebration covers a range of current and historical industry achievements. By acknowledging the

exceptional merit of individuals or organizations, HAI’s “Salute to Excellence” awards encourage continued

attainment of the highest standards of professionalism in the international helicopter community.

Aviation Ma i n t e n a n c e Te c h n i c i a n Aw a r d

David Vogel, Senior Technical Representative; American Eurocopter; Grand Prairie, Texas

Vogel has 32 years of professional experience in the

rotorcraft industry. A graduate of the Aviation

Maintenance & Technology School

in Pennsylvania, Vogel also studied

at Vo-Tech school before acquiring

his airframe and powerplant license

in 1974, his inspection authorization

license in 1986, and his general

radiotelephone operator license in


Vogel went to work at Carson

Helicopters in 1974, where he was

responsible for field maintenance

on the company’s S-55, S-58, and

S-61 helicopters. While there

he obtained heavy sheet metal

experience rebuilding S-58s and S-61s, and also completed

kit conversions of the S-58 to the turbine-powered S-58T.

In 1983, Vogel moved to MBB Helicopter Corp.

(MHC) as Completion/Fabrication Lead, responsible for

completion work on medical and paramilitary helicopters.

He also managed MHC’s sheet metal back shop and floor

installation team. During his eleven years with MHC, Vogel

performed work on the BO105CBS, BO105LSA-3, and


all Photos Courtesy of Lagniappe Studio, Inc.

BK 117 A3 through B2. He also designed a liquid oxygen

system for Hermann Hospital’s BK117s in 1986, completing

all drawings associated with the


Since 1992, Vogel has been

working for American Eurocopter,

initially as Completion Lead. In

1996, he was appointed Senior

Technical Support Engineer,

responsible for undertaking

retrofit programs and providing

support to American Eurocopter’s

600 customers and 17 field

representatives. In this role, he

is also closely involved with the

creation and implementation of

Service Bulletins and Alert Service Bulletins, as well as

drafting damage reports, coordinating Master Minimum

Equipment Lists, and providing training to American

Eurocopter employees and customers. Vogel has also been

closely involved with the U.S. Army’s UH-72A Lakota

Light Utility Helicopter program, including kit installations

and structural damage assessment, and in supporting the

successful UH-145 bid and “fly-off.”

Aviation Re p a i r Sp e c i a l i s t Aw a r d

Jeffery L. Peabody, Maintenance Technician; Air Logistics of Alaska, Inc.; Fairbanks, Alaska

Peabody graduated from Colorado Aero Tech in 1973

and went to Jelco Inc., maintaining their Sikorsky

S-58 T, Bell 212, and Bell 205

A-1 aircraft. While there he also

attended the Pratt & Whitney

factory school. From there he went

to work for Anchorage Helicopter

Services at the Trans Alaska

Pipeline Five Mile construction

camp, eventually becoming lead

mechanic on their S-58 T. In

addition to pipeline support, he

unloaded liberty freighters bringing

housing materials to the coastal

villages on Norton Sound, and

helped build a seawall for a new

school on Little Diomede Island.

Peabody began working for Air Logistics of Alaska in

1988, serving as an aircraft mechanic, Bell 212 instructor,

and customer airport liaison officer. He has also been

heavily involved in training advisory weather station

observers for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s

Trans Alaska Pipeline System. In 2004, when the ship

Selendang Ayu ran aground near

Dutch Harbor, Peabody oversaw

maintenance work on the Bell and

Eurocopter fleet involved in the eight

month-long cleanup effort. In 2005

Peabody became Senior Maintenance

Instructor, responsible for the

coordination, documentation, and

training of all Air Logistics’ mechanics.

Peabody served as treasurer on the

Board of Directors for the non-profit

Anchorage Neighborhood Health

Center from 1992 until 2000, and was

the 2007 recipient of the “Forest Jones

Safety/Maintenance” award. From pride in his maintenance

work and safety diligence, to his attitude of always getting

the job done while enjoying doing it, Air Logistics of

Alaska considers Peabody to be among the leaders in the

helicopter maintenance industry.

Ig o r I. Si k o r s k y Aw a r d f o r Hu m a n i t a r i a n Se r v i c e

Grand Canyon National Park Helitack, Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters provides a

helicopter and pilots, under contract to the National

Park Service for its Helitack Program, which protects the

visitors and resources of the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon

National Park Helitack staff provide search and rescue

services for the program.

During the summer, the

helitack program is also

staffed with firefighters who

provide initial fire attack,

heli-rappel deployment, long

line cargo, water bucket,

and other large fire logistical


On August 16, 2008,

Havasu Canyon, a popular

side canyon of the Grand

Canyon, flooded as a

result of heavy, localized,

monsoon rains. That evening, the Grand Canyon Regional

Communications Center received word that five unmanned

rafts had been seen floating down the Colorado River with

supplies and personal flotation devices aboard.

At approximately 10:45 a.m. the next day, a Grand

Canyon National Park Helitack helicopter found the

boating party stranded on a ledge at the confluence

of Havasu Creek and the Colorado River. A plan was

conceived by the flight crew that the safest and most

efficient way to rescue the people was to rig the aircraft for

short-haul and evacuate them on a long line across Havasu

Canyon to a safe landing

area. Once in position,

the rescuers outfitted each

boater in a rescue triangle

and climbing helmet.

The evacuation required

precision flying under difficult

conditions due to the tight

canyon and the need to hover

for prolonged periods in close

proximity to the canyon wall.

Eventually all the members

of the boating party were


The Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters flight crew

and Grand Canyon National Park Helitack staff provide

the highest level of service through effective crew resource

management, ground training, and skill proficiency. They

fly in excess of 450 flight hours in the Grand Canyon


Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters flight crew, and Grand Canyon National Park Helitack staff: Bryce Barnett – Helicopter

Pilot; Nate Becker – Helitack/Paramedic; Jay Lusher – Helicopter Manager; Sean Naylor – Helitack Crewmember; Brandon

Torres – Ranger/Paramedic; Ali Ulwelling – Helitack Crewmember; John Yurcik – Helitack Crewmember

Spring 2009 57

Th e Jo e Ma s h m a n Sa f e t y Aw a r d

Tony Cramp, Senior Advisor Air Safety and Global Projects; Shell Aircraft International; Rotterdam, Netherlands

Cramp started his aviation career in the Royal Navy as

a Lynx helicopter pilot, serving as a flight instructor

and aircraft flight commander. He saw active service on

operations in the Middle East,

East Timor, and Sierra Leone,

and commanded the warship HMS

Ledbury, before completing his

service as the Commanding Officer

815 Naval Air Squadron, based in

the United Kingdom.

Tony is committed to achieving

the International Helicopter Safety

Team’s goal of an 80 percent

reduction in helicopter accidents.

For the last 6 years he has been an

aviation safety advisor for Shell

Aircraft International, four of

which as Senior Advisor for North and South America,

implementing policies and practices to improve the safety

and efficiency of Shell’s helicopter operations. Interpreting

complex programs into procedures that are readily

understood, and being practical and responsive to operator

needs, Cramp has provided operators the opportunity to

improve their safety culture and realize benefits of reduced

operating costs, as well as improving the interface between

customers and operators.

Cramp has led, within the

International Association of Oil and

Gas Producers, the development

of improved guidelines for seismic

helicopter support and, within the

Helicopter Safety Advisory Council,

led the development and publication

of a new helideck marking scheme

for the Gulf of Mexico, designed

to harmonize current U.S. and

international schemes. His

willingness to listen and understand

the challenges of the various sectors

of the industry has also contributed

to the formation of an Oil and Gas working group within


Over the years Cramp has worked very closely with

a great many helicopter operators and organizations,

encouraging operators to learn new skills, expand the

learning process, and to increase overall safety.

Ou t s t a n d i n g Ce r t i f i e d Fl i g h t In s t r u c t o r Aw a r d

Kevin C. Brandt, Senior Flight Instructor; Bell Helicopter; Fort Worth, Texas

Since 1996 Brandt has been Senior Flight Instructor at

the Bell Flight Training Academy, where his specialty

is transition and recurrent training

for standard flight maneuvers

and emergency procedures. His

calm and confident demeanor in

the demanding environment of

helicopter flight instruction creates

an atmosphere of trust, allowing

for a most productive learning

experience. His challenging yet

carefully structured lessons motivate

his students to strive for their best


In addition to flight proficiency,

Brandt fosters an attitude of safety

during each flight, and in all aspects

of flying. His students complete their training as more

competent and safer pilots. As testimony to this, Brandt

was awarded an HAI Pilot Safety Award upon logging 5,000

consecutive accident and violation-free helicopter flight


Brandt continually expands his knowledge of equipment

and teaching techniques. As a licensed A&P mechanic,

he incorporates knowledge from that perspective into

his flight instruction by teaching

students about the entire aircraft.

He currently has more than 10,000

accident and violation-free flight

hours, and over 4,450 hours of

instruction provided to more than

2,000 students — specializing in

day, night, and precision touchdown

autorotations. He also has more

than 15 years of aero medical flying,

and five years of offshore flying

experience, and was acknowledged

for his humanitarian efforts during

the Hurricane Katrina relief


Brandt’s rapport with students makes him one of the

most requested instructors for recurrent training at the Bell

Flight Training Academy. Brandt’s abilities as a helicopter

flight instructor, his sense of humor and quick wit, and

a genuine concern for his students, have earned him the

widespread respect of students and peers alike.


Ag u s t aWe s t l a n d Co m m u n i t y Se r v i c e Aw a r d

David B. Nichols, M.D., Owner, President, Managing Director; White Stone Family Practice; White Stone, Virginia

Affectionately known as “Dr. Copter,” Nichols

graduated from McGill University School of

Medicine in Montreal, Canada in

1976, completing his residency in

Newport News through Virginia

Commonwealth University’s Medical

College of Virginia. He is certified

by the American Board of Family

Medicine, a member of the Virginia

Academy of Family Practice, and a

fellow of the American Academy

of Family Practice. Nichols has

been appointed Clinical Associate

Professor of Family Practice at MCV.

When Nichols was a high school

senior he took an occupational

aptitude test on which he scored

highest in aviation and medicine! At age 49, he took his

first flight in a helicopter. Eight months later he received

his helicopter pilot license at Hampton Roads Executive

Airport in Chesapeake. He has logged more than 1,000

flight hours and currently flies a fuel-injected Robinson R44

Raven II. Nichols has served as a Senior Aviation Medical

Examiner for 29 years.

Nichols first visited Tangier Island in the Chesapeake

Bay with his father while still in medical school, promising

Eu r o c o p t e r Go l d e n Ho u r Aw a r d

Chicago Fire Department, Air Sea Rescue Unit, Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Fire Department Air Rescue Helicopter

unit was formed in 1965 at Midway Airport. Initial

training on their two Bell 47Gs was through the Bell

Helicopter Training academy. The unit provided aerial

observation and command for large scale traffic and

medical evacuation

operations, and the

rapid delivery of

medical supplies. In

1967, at Meigs Field,

the unit established a

water rescue mission

alongside Chicago

Fire Department Sea

Rescue. In 1979, the Air

and Sea Rescue units

became Chicago Fire

Department Air Sea Rescue. In 2003 Meigs Field closed

and the unit relocated to the 95th Street Heliport.

On April 18, 2008, Helicopter 6-8-1, piloted by

Lieutenant Kenneth Straman and Firefighter/EMT

Anthony Lisanti, responded to an incident of a child in a

stroller being blown into Lake Michigan by a freak gust of

wind. While the helicopter hovered above the area where

to one day return to help the isolated community. In the

fall of 1979, a few months after setting up a family practice

in White Stone, Virginia, Nichols

began flying first his own plane, and

then his helicopter to Tangier to take

care of the island’s more than 600

residents. Nichols and his colleagues

have been doing so every Thursday

and every other Monday since. A

part of the Tangier “family,” he cares

deeply about not only the physical,

but the emotional and spiritual

problems of the islanders as well.

Nichols was awarded Staff

Care’s 2006 Country Doctor of the

Year Award, for which he received

congratulations from President

George W. Bush; the Commonwealth of Virginia House of

Delegates; and Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine. He has

been mentioned in numerous publications including USA

Today, The Washington Post, The Richmond Times Dispatch,

The Virginian-Pilot, and in the fall 2007 ROTOR magazine.

On January 19, 2007, he was ABC “News Person of the

Week.” As President Bush said in his letter to Nichols,

“Your efforts bring hope to those in need and help make

America stronger.”

the child was thought to be, rescue divers Firefighter/

EMT Brian Otto, and Firefighter/Paramedic William

Davis dropped into the lake. After approximately four

minutes the child was found at the bottom of the lake, still

strapped in to the stroller. Otto then swam some 12 feet up

to the surface, carrying

the child still in the

stroller. Unit members

immediately began

resuscitation measures,

which continued en

route to Children’s

Memorial Hospital.

Although the child had

been under water for

an amazing 15 minutes,

after four months of

intensive care he made a full recovery.

The unit defines readiness with 24 hours a day, 365 days

a year service in aircraft, and powered zodiac inflatables

fully equipped with underwater camera equipment. This

service continually advances the reputation of the Chicago

Fire Department as an innovator in many fields of rescue

and fire suppression.

Spring 2009 59

Ex c e l l e n c e in Co m m u n i c a t i o n s Aw a r d

James T. McKenna, Editor in Chief of Rotor & Wing Magazine; Access Intelligence, Rockville, Maryland

McKenna has been reporting on aviation for 30

years, starting with an article he wrote on the 75th

anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight for The Log

newspaper of his alma mater, New

York City’s Aviation High School.

He spent the late 1980s and the ‘90s

reporting on all types of aircraft

operations for Aviation Week & Space

Technology. McKenna has been

prolific in writing monthly features

on the challenges of helicopter

operations, manufacturing, and

support businesses. He has also

authored profiles of major industry

players, including AgustaWestland,

Bell, Sikorsky, and Turbomeca.

McKenna has earned a reputation

as one of the most respected

reporters in the world on aviation safety. His time at Rotor &

Wing coincided with a push by the International Helicopter

Safety Team to slash accident rates 80 percent by 2016.

From the start, he recognized the importance of that effort

to the long-term success of the helicopter industry and put

the resources of the magazine behind it. McKenna has been

effective in promoting greater integration of helicopters

into emergency-response operations. He has reached

beyond his immediate audience to highlight the importance

of helicopters in emergencies and

relief efforts, such as in the wake of

Hurricane Katrina. In one USA Today

Op-Ed piece, McKenna called for

broader recognition of the unique

capabilities of helicopters, and for

advance disaster response planning

to include private, commercial, and

public aircraft, saying: “Two things

are needed, more helicopters and a

plan for using them.”

Since his nomination for the Salute

to Excellence Award, McKenna

has left Rotor & Wing to join the

Communications Department

of Bell Helicopter, where he now serves as director of

communications operations. The helicopter industry has

indeed been fortunate to have McKenna so effectively

publicizing the helicopter’s uniqueness, reporting on

numerous challenges and opportunities, and documenting

the helicopter’s growing presence in our daily lives.

He l i c o p t e r Ma i n t e n a n c e Aw a r d

Rich Higgins, Helicopter Crew Chief; Cablevision Systems Corporation; Farmingdale, New York

Higgins began his aviation career in 1982 at the

Academy of Aeronautics in Flushing, New York, while

also working line service with Island Helicopter. At Island

he progressed to heavy maintenance,

performing complete teardown

and rebuilding work. He was later

promoted to Inspector/Records

Manager, responsible for records on

35 aircraft, including final inspections

and maintenance releases.

Higgins is currently Cablevision’s

lead Crew Chief on the Sikorsky S-76

helicopter, working on all models of

the aircraft from the B to the current

C++. Tasked with consistently

providing a safe, airworthy aircraft,

Higgins understands the concept of

“Zero Tolerance” and has a long history of providing “Zero

Error” maintenance. The aircraft he oversees fly over 600

hours and 2,000 cycles per year, and he maintains an overall

availability rating for his aircraft of 99.6 percent — an

achievement requiring a great deal of determination and


Higgins has an extensive training record and strongly

believes in continuing professional education. His training


at Flight Safety International has included Maintenance

Initial and Update for the S-76A and S-76B, S-76C

Differences, Gulfstream GIII Maintenance Initial,

Advanced Troubleshooting,

Composite Repair, Composite

Structure Update, Maintenance

Resource Management, and

Maintenance Manager. His

additional advanced training

includes Turbomeca 2S Line

Maintenance, Honeywell 7000 &

7600 Auto Pilot systems, Pratt &

Whitney PT6-36 Line Maintenance,

Allison 250 Series Engines, and HAI

Human Performance/Helicopter


Although having worked in

aviation for nearly three decades, Higgins exhibits the

same eagerness and excitement for the job as someone

just starting out. He is an extremely popular and reliable

mechanic, and he prides himself on his ability to develop

and maintain solid working relationships with vendors,

aircraft manufacturers, colleagues, and the FAA. In 2000,

Flight Safety International awarded Higgins their Master

Technician Certificate.

MD He l i c o p t e r s La w En f o r c e m e n t Aw a r d

Flight Crew Air 101, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department; Modesto, California

On September 14, 2008, Air 101 of the Stanislaus

County Sheriff’s Department was conducting a

routine patrol when they were notified of a man in a

roadway attacking a baby. Arriving

at the scene, and observing the

horrific assault in progress, the

flight officers decided to intervene

rather than wait for ground

units. Pilot, Deputy Rob Latapie,

conducted a landing in a field

adjacent to the roadway where the

attack was taking place. Officer

Jerry Ramar, a Tactical Flight

Officer, immediately exited the

helicopter and ran to confront

the man, but was blocked by an

electric fence and barbed wire. When the assailant ignored

the officers’ commands and continued to beat the baby,

Ramar fired one shot, killing the suspect and ending the

attack on the baby. Although the baby was rushed to the

hospital, he died shortly after arrival as a result of injuries

suffered in the attack. While the outcome was tragic, the

heroism and quick actions of the crew are not diminished.

Latapie has been with the Department’s Air Unit

for almost 13 years, and is chief pilot. He is also a Field

Training Officer and has served on the Mounted and Drug

Units. Trained by Bell Helicopter in four different aircraft,

he has been a pilot for more than

20 years, with over 5,000 accidentfree

flying hours. He has won the

Attorney General’s Award for

finding two children taken in a

stolen vehicle. Officer Ramar had

been with the Modesto Police

Department for nearly six years,

and was assigned to the Street

Crimes Unit focusing on gangs.

He has been in the Air Support

Unit for two years. In 2007 he

was awarded the Department’s

Distinguished Service Medal for his service in the Street

Crimes Unit.

The Department has had air support in one form or

another since 1948, with the formal Air Support Unit being

formed in 2000. The quick thinking and actions of the crew

in this incident, combined with the unique capabilities of

the helicopter, demonstrated once again the value of air

support in crime suppression.

La w r e n c e D. Be l l Me m o r i a l Aw a r d

Neill Osborne, President and COO; Era Helicopters L.L.C.; Lake Charles, Louisiana

Osborne joined the US Army in 1967. He flew

helicopters in Vietnam until 1969, and was awarded

the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal. He

then trained pilots returning from

Vietnam as instructor pilots. From

1971 until 1993 he worked for

Petroleum Helicopters, the last six

years of which as Vice President

of operations where he was

instrumental in encouraging the

development of one of the first Crew

Resource Management training

courses for its pilots.

From 1993 to 2000 Osborne

worked at Air Logistics, serving

as Vice President and General

Manager from 1998. There he

implemented development of the use of flight training

devices and one of the first Inadvertent Instrument

Meteorological Conditions flight training classes to help

pilots cope with unforgiving offshore weather. In 2003,

Osborne was appointed Executive Vice President and

Chief Operating Officer of Tex-Air Helicopters, Inc.,

where he was responsible for managing the safety and

operational activities of the Tex-Air fleet and organization.

From 2005 he has been President of Era Helicopters

LLC. Under his leadership, Era developed the first FAR

Part 135 Flight Operations Quality

Assurance program, and one of the

first Safety Management Systems

adopted by a U.S. operator. At Era,

Neill works to ensure that all new

aircraft purchases provide crews

and passengers with the latest safety

features available.

Active in the international

helicopter industry for more

than 40 years, Osborne has had

worldwide responsibility for the

operational efficiency and safety

of a broad variety of aircraft types.

He also holds an Airline Transport Pilot’s rating for

helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. In addition to his

many accomplishments, Osborne has contributed much

of his personal time and money to the advancement

of the Helicopter Industry. Osborne served as an HAI

Board member from 1993 to 1997 and Chairman of HAI

in 1998.

Spring 2009 61

Ro b e r t E. Tr i m b l e Aw a r d

Djoko Prasetyo, Pilot; P.T. Airfast Indonesia; Jakarta, Indonesia

Prasetyo graduated from the Civil Aviation Academy,

Indonesia, in 1975 and from South West Airline/

Arizona Helicopter Aviation School in Scottsdale, Arizona

in 1978. He has more than 18,000 flying hours; more than

10,000 of these have been accidentfree

high altitude operations.

Prasetyo has worked for many

organizations, including service as

Operations and Safety Manager

for Conoco Oil Company. He has

amassed an impressive knowledge of

equipment and procedures including

offshore; logging survey; heli-rig;

seismic; laser equipment survey;

aerial photography to 20,000 feet;

drilling rig moves; long line to 13,000

feet; and hoist operations.

Prasetyo joined PT Airfast Indonesia in 1992. His

regular flying region includes Tembagapura village at 6,000

feet, and Grasberg Mountain at 14,000 feet. In 1995 he

executed a pinnacle landing at 14,500 feet to retrieve the

remains of American and Australian flight crews lost during

the Second World War.

In 1996, several European tourists were abducted near

the gold and copper mine at Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea.

During the three-month release negotiations, Prasetyo flew

Red Cross negotiators from village to village, on several

occasions coming under fire from the kidnappers. When

he rescued the hostages, he was forced to again execute a

pinnacle landing on a hanging rock.

A kidnapping of a timber company’s

employees also necessitated bringing

out hostages under fire. For these

acts, the Indonesian Government

awarded him the State Medal of


In June 2006, Prasetyo

was awarded a Certificate of

Appreciation from PT Freeport

Indonesia for outstanding

contribution to search and rescue

by finding numerous people missing on Aru Island. He was

again awarded a Certificate of Appreciation in November

2006, for outstanding service in the evacuation of victims of

the Trigana aircraft crash at Jaya Wijaya Mountain.

Prasetyo is active in providing high altitude mountain

training for Airfast Helicopter crews and for Indonesian

Army Aviation. Special Forces and Indonesian Army

Aviation groups have named Prasetyo an “Honorary


Pi l o t o f t h e Ye a r Aw a r d

Tom Brooks, Base Manager; Canadian Helicopters Ltd.; Smithers, British Columbia, Canada

Brooks has been flying for more than thirty years, during

which time he has amassed over 23,500 flight hours.

He began his initial flight training in

1975 with Agro-Copters, an Albertabased

company formed by his father,

where he was involved in pipeline

construction, mineral exploration,

animal inventory count, seeding,

and spraying. In 1976, he gained

his commercial rotary wing license,

initially endorsed on the Bell 47 and

Hiller 12 E.

Brooks has been working for

CHL since 1984. In 1988, he became

Base Manager and flight instructor,

taking twenty new pilots through

rigorous exercises, including a full mountain course, to

prepare them for operations in Western Canada. In spite

of its rugged terrain and harsh weather, Smithers is often

chosen by CHL as a place to assign entry level pilots.

Brooks always finds time to mentor new pilots, helping

many graduate to the rank of “Experienced Pilot.”

Brooks is an accomplished long line pilot, an expert in


the use of the drip torch, and an authority on aerial cone

collection — the challenging technique of hovering at

tree top level to collect cones for

reforestation. He was one of the

first pilots in Western Canada to use

the “net capture gun” to capture

mountain caribou for tagging and

collaring. Brooks is a recipient

of the HAI Pilot Safety Award

for achieving 20,000 consecutive

accident and violation-free flight

hours, and CHL has not experienced

a pilot at fault accident in North

Western British Columbia since

Brooks became Base Manager.

Whether it is in search and

rescue, moving a diamond drill on the side of a mountain,

power line repair, or fighting a forest fire in an old growth

forest, Brooks can be relied on to do the job right. His

exceptional ability and good judgment, provision of

outstanding service, and high standards of safety embodies

the skills that the Pilot of the Year Award was designed to


Ho n o r a r y Li f e t i m e Me m b e r Aw a r d s

Individuals who have distinguished themselves to a significant degree through efforts directed toward the advancement

or improvement of the international helicopter community. Honorary members shall hold membership for life.

“Dub” Blessing

“Dub” Blessing has enjoyed an incredibly rich and

W. varied career, spanning more than

50 years, in which he has amassed in excess

of 19,000 flight hours – 14,000 of which as

a certified flight instructor.

Blessing began his career in 1953 as

a jet engine mechanic and crew chief

with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve,

receiving an honorable discharge in 1962.

Joining the Texas National Guard in 1964,

he qualified as a helicopter mechanic,

before earning Army aviator “Wings of

Silver” and a Warrant Officer First Class

commission in 1965. In 1966 he joined

Southern Airways of Texas, a civilian

contractor of the U.S. Army Helicopter

Training Center, where he instructed the first Vietnamese

student pilots. In 1978 he became a flight instructor with

Jet Fleet Corporation, later becoming Helicopter Division

Manager. There he designed a training syllabus for Ross

Perot, Jr. In 1982 he was chosen to help plan and execute

the first round the world helicopter flight for Ross Perot,

Jr. After completing this record-breaking

event, he became H. Ross Perot’s personal

helicopter pilot. In 1985 he led pilots and

crew in the One Million Vertical Feet

Challenge for Multiple Sclerosis in the

Chugauch Wilderness area of Alaska. This

included setting up base camps at 3,000

and 6,000 Mean Sea Level on a remote


Blessing has represented Bell

Helicopter-Textron, the Allison Division

of General Motors, Hughes Helicopters,

McDonnell-Douglas, and Schwitzer

Helicopters in industry matters relating

to flight training. He is currently Chief

Pilot Emeritus, Helicopter Division, Perot Group; and

Special Projects Coordinator, Hillwood Properties. In

1985 Blessing received the first HAI Outstanding Certified

Flight Instructor Award for high standards of excellence in

flight training.

Dennis Nichols

Dennis Nichols graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy

in 1961, receiving his diploma from President John

F. Kennedy. Flying A-4 Skyhawks from

carriers, he accumulated more than 500

landings on his first tour, and was the first

pilot to obtain 100 arrested landings.

In 1967 he left the Navy, becoming one

of the founders and President of ARNAV

Systems – designers and manufacturers

of area navigation equipment. He

promoted Loran Receivers to Gulf of

Mexico operators, and pioneered the use

of Terminal Control Area identification

technology. Nichols was the first

American President of the U.S. subsidiary

of Turbomeca, the French helicopter

engine manufacturer. He was responsible for many of their

major innovations and expansion within the United States,

including FAA certification of production.

Nichols twice served as engine representative to the

HAI Board, and President of Helicopter

Foundation International (HFI). He

established a blue ribbon panel of experts

to address noise issues, which resulted in

the development of an educational DVD

that is considered to be the best noise

abatement training aid available.

Nichols’ legacy is education; from

his financial support program enabling

Turbomeca employees to send their

children to college, to endorsing HFI’s

efforts to attract young people to the

helicopter industry by raising funds for

yearly aviation scholarships. Through his

church he also teaches English and leadership at Hebei

Normal University of Science and Technology in China.

Spring 2009


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