Helicopters Magazine

Eagle Copters’ O’Reilly wins prestigious award

February 22, 2016  By Twirly Birds

Anthony Melvin (Mel) O’Reilly, the founder of Eagle Copters in Calgary, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Les Morris award, handed out by international helicopter pilot organization, Twirly Birds.

O’Reilly began his long aviation career in eastern Canada in 1955 with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in field helicopter maintenance and later saw extensive duty as an engineer and pilot around the world. Maintaining, leasing, managing, flying and selling helicopters from the Yukon Territory to southeast Asia for more than 60 years, O’Reilly has been an aviation pioneer worthy of the coveted Les Morris award.

In 1975, O’Reilly took his skills as an engineer and aviator and founded Eagle Copters Ltd. (ECL) and, a short time later, Eagle Copters Maintenance Ltd. (ECML). For more than 40 years, the two companies have specialized in leasing and sales of helicopters around the globe along with maintenance overhaul, spare parts support and innovative product development for helicopters.

O’Reilly will be presented the award by Sergei Sikorsky during the upcoming annual meeting of the Twirly Birds on March 1 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown, Kentucky Ballroom, Salon E.

The Les Morris award is presented annually by the Twirly Birds as lifetime achievement recognition to an individual that has made a significant contribution to the helicopter community. Aviation pioneer Les Morris is recognized as an early helicopter test pilot and innovator responsible for the early refinement and development of helicopters while at Sikorsky Aircraft.


Twirly Birds was founded 70 years ago when a small group of pilots met to share stories and the common experiences of flying helicopters during these early years of vertical flight. Notable past members include Charles Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky and Stewart R. Graham, to name a few. The intent was then and is now, to share the common bond of vertical flight.


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