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HAI 2009 Salute to Excellence Awards

The Helicopter Association International (HAI) is proud to announce its “Salute to Excellence” award winners for 2009. The “Salute to Excellence” awards program, now in its 48th year, recognizes outstanding achievement performed by individuals or companies in the international helicopter community. Winners will be recognized during the HAI “Salute to Excellence” banquet and awards ceremony to be held on Monday, February 23, 2009, at HELI-EXPO 2009 in Anaheim, California.


December 12, 2008
By Administrator

Topics

The Helicopter Association
International (HAI) is proud to announce its “Salute to Excellence”
award winners for 2009. The “Salute to Excellence” awards program, now
in its 48th year, recognizes outstanding achievement performed by
individuals or companies in the international helicopter community.
Winners will be recognized during the HAI “Salute to Excellence”
banquet and awards ceremony to be held on Monday, February 23, 2009, at
HELI-EXPO 2009 in Anaheim, California.

dub_blessingW. “Dub” Blessing; Chief Pilot Emeritus, Helicopter Division, Perot Group; and Special Projects Coordinator, Hillwood Properties, will receive HAI’s Honorary Lifetime Member Award on February 23, 2009, at HELI-EXPO 2009 in Anaheim, California, during HAI’s 48th annual “Salute to Excellence” awards ceremony and banquet.

From a U.S. Marine Corps engine mechanic, to H. Ross Perot’s personal helicopter pilot, “Dub” Blessing has enjoyed an incredibly rich and varied career, spanning more than 50 years, in which he has amassed in excess of 19,000 flight hours, and more than 14,000 certified flight instruction hours.

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 at the Jet Fleet Corporation training center, later becoming Helicopter Division Manager. At Jet Fleet, he designed a training syllabus for Ross Perot, Jr. To meet Perot’s busy schedule, he conducted the training during his off-duty hours.

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In 1982 Blessing was chosen to help plan and execute the first round the world helicopter flight for Ross Perot, Jr. Upon completion of 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 glacier by sling-loading supplies into the area.

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. In 1985 Blessing received the first HAI Outstanding Certified Flight Instructor Award for high standards of excellence in flight training.

dennis_nicholsDennis Nichols will receive HAI’s Honorary Lifetime Member Award on February 23, 2009, at HELI-EXPO 2009 in Anaheim, California, during HAI’s 48th annual “Salute to Excellence” awards ceremony and banquet.

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 on the USS America. He also served as a Landing Signal Officer, certified to wave all aircraft types in the carrier group.

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 in the software used to prevent pilots penetrating prohibited and restricted airspace.

He was the first American President to run the U.S. subsidiary of French helicopter engine manufacturer, Turbomeca. In that capacity he was responsible for many of their major innovations and expansion within the United States, to include FAA certification for production.

Nichols twice served as engine representative to the HAI Board, and has served as president of Helicopter Foundation International (HFI). He established a blue ribbon panel of experts to address noise issues, which resulted in the development of a DVD aimed at international, commercial, and military operators 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. With his church he also teaches English and leadership at Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology in China

air_101HAI is proud to announce the 2009 MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award recipient, Flight Crew Air 101; Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Modesto, California.

On September 14, 2008, Air 101, a Bell 206 helicopter of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department was conducting a routine patrol when it was notified of a man in a roadway beating an infant. The unit decided to intervene directly. The pilot, Deputy Rob Latapie, made the decision to conduct a landing in a cow pasture near the roadway. Officer Jerry Ramar, a Tactical Flight Officer that evening, immediately exited the helicopter and ran to the roadway to confront the man. The actions of the crew, combined with the unique capabilities of the helicopter, provided an early conclusion to this mission.
 
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 the Drug Units. Trained by Bell Helicopter in four different aircraft, he has been a pilot for more than 20 years and has over 5,000 accident-free flying hours. He has won the Attorney General’s Award for finding two children taken in a stolen vehicle. Officer Ramar has been with the Modesto Police Department for nearly 6 years and is assigned to the Street Crimes Unit focusing on gangs. He has been in the Air Support Unit for two years. In 2007 Ramar was awarded the Department’s Distinguished Service Medal for his service in the Street Crimes Unit.

The Department has had air support since 1948, receiving four military surplus Bell OH-58 helicopters in 1995. In 2000 the Air Support Unit was formed. Members of the Department are regularly involved in dangerous assignments. In July 2008 the Dive Team recovered vehicles and bodies from the Delta Mendota canal after a collision near the town of Westley. The swiftness of the current, the presence of debris on the canal bottom, and the low visibility made for a dangerous environment for the divers. The Sheriff’s Department does not have a full-time dive unit so deputies often respond from their own homes.

HAI congratulates Flight Crew Air 101 of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department for their contribution to the advancement of the crime-suppression concept of helicopter patrol service to ensure public safety.

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HAI is proud to announce the 2009 Igor I. Sikorsky Award for Humanitarian Service recipient, Grand Canyon National Park Helitack, Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters provides a full 365 day a year service contract which includes pilots, mechanics, and support vehicles to preserve and protect the visitors and resources of the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park Helitack provides search & rescue services, medical evacuations, short-haul rescues, and an aerial search platform. During the summer the helitack program is also staffed with fourteen firefighters who provide wildland support including fire initial attack, heli-rappel firefighter deployment, long line cargo support, passenger transport, water bucket support, and other large fire logistical support.

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 floatation 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 get the people to safety 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 evacuated.

The Grand Canyon National Park Helitack crew provides 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 annually.

cimg2280HAI is proud to announce the 2009 Eurocopter Golden Hour Award recipient, Chicago Fire Department Air Sea Rescue, Chicago, Illinois.

The Chicago Fire Department’s Air Rescue Helicopter unit was formed in 1965 with the delivery of two Bell 47G’s to Midway Airport. Initial training was through the Bell Helicopter Training academy. The helicopters were to provide aerial observation and command for large scale traffic and medical evacuation operations, and for rapid delivery of medical supplies. In 1967 the unit formed a second location at Meigs Field, providing a water rescue mission alongside Chicago Fire Department Sea Rescue, and in 1979 the Air and Sea Rescue units merged. In 2001 the unit took delivery of its first twin turbine engine helicopter, a new Bell Model 412EP, improving rescue capability and safety. 2003 saw the closure of Meigs Field and the relocation of Chicago Fire Department Air Sea Rescue to the 95th Street Heliport.

cimg2287On April 18, 2008, Chicago Fire Department 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. Having obtained the location from first responders, the helicopter hovered above the area where the child was thought to be while 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.


neill_osborneHAI is proud to announce the 2009 Lawrence D. Bell Memorial Award recipient, Neill Osborne; President and COO, Era Helicopters LLC, Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Osborne joined the US Army in 1967, flying helicopters in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 where he was awarded the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal. He then trained returning Vietnam veteran pilots as instructor pilots. In 1971 he entered the public realm, working until 1993 at Petroleum Helicopters. From 1987 to 1993 he served as Petroleum Helicopters’ 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, where from 1998 to 2000 he served as Vice President and General Manager. 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 Helicopters 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 Helicopters, Neill works to ensure that all new aircraft purchases provide crews and passengers with the latest safety features available to the industry.

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. HAI salutes Neill for his unwavering support and contributions to the helicopter industry.

dr_nicholsHAI is proud to announce the 2009 AgustaWestland Community Service Award recipient, 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 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.”

All winners will be recognized at HELI-EXPO 2009’s annual “Salute to Excellence” Awards Banquet on February 23, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in Anaheim, California.  For more information about the 2009 “Salute to Excellence” Awards Banquet, contact HAI’s Communications Department at 703-683-4646, fax: 703-683-4745, or email: rotor@rotor.com.  For more information on HELI-EXPO 2009, visit www.heliexpo.com.

brandtHAI is proud to announce
the 2009 Outstanding Certified Flight Instructor Award recipient, 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 performance.

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 hours.

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; over 4,450 hours of flight instruction
with more than 2,000 students; and over 70,000 touchdown autorotations
with zero accidents, specializing in day and night touchdown
autorotations, and precision 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 operation.

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. HAI
congratulates Kevin Brandt for his contributions to the helicopter
industry.

All winners will be recognized at HELI-EXPO 2009’s annual “Salute to
Excellence” Awards Banquet on February 23, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in
Anaheim, California.  For more information about the 2009 “Salute to
Excellence” Awards Banquet, contact HAI’s Communications Department at
703-683-4646, fax: 703-683-4745, or email: rotor@rotor.com.  For more
information on HELI-EXPO 2009, visit www.heliexpo.com.

rich_higginsHAI is proud to announce the 2009 Helicopter Maintenance Award recipient, 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 resourcefulness.

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 Maintenance.

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.

All winners will be recognized at HELI-EXPO 2009’s annual “Salute to Excellence” Awards Banquet on February 23, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in Anaheim, California.  For more information about the 2009 “Salute to Excellence” Awards Banquet, contact HAI’s Communications Department at 703-683-4646, fax: 703-683-4745, or email: rotor@rotor.com.  For more information on HELI-EXPO 2009, visit www.heliexpo.com.

david_vogel_small

HAI is proud to announce the 2009 Aviation Maintenance Technician Award recipient, 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 1996.

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 BK 117 A3 through B2. He also designed a LOX system for Hermann Hospital’s BK117s in 1986, completing all drawings associated with the installation.

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.”

All winners will be recognized at HELI-EXPO 2009’s annual “Salute to Excellence” Awards Banquet on February 23, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in Anaheim, California.  For more information about the 2009 “Salute to Excellence” Awards Banquet, contact HAI’s Communications Department at 703-683-4646, fax: 703-683-4745, or email: rotor@rotor.com.  For more information on HELI-EXPO 2009, visit www.heliexpo.com .

HAI is a professional trade
association representing 2,800 plus members, in 74 nations, who safely
operate more than 5,000 helicopters approximately 2.3 million hours
each year. HAI is dedicated to the promotion of the helicopter as a
safe, effective method of commerce, and to the advancement of the
international helicopter community.

 

 


 


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