Realizing the Dream

Sergei Sikorsky Adds Special Touch to Lively HAC Event
Fred Jones
January 15, 2014
By Fred Jones
"The helicopter approaches closer than any other (vehicle) to fulfilment of mankind’s ancient dream of the flying horse and the magic carpet.” – Igor Sikorsky

I’d like to begin my first column of the New Year by extending a big thank you to our corporate and convention sponsors, our associates and exhibitors, and our delegates for their support of our 2013 Vancouver Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) convention.

HAC’s largest tradeshow ever boasted some 90 exhibitors and 730 delegates in the association’s first full-format fall event. The solid turnout and strong corporate support bodes very well for the future of our fall format. The mood throughout the event was upbeat, and if you were fortunate enough to attend the After-Hours Event at the Blackbird Public House and Oyster Bar, you well know that the mood was more than upbeat – it was positively out of control. What can you say . . . helicopter types are the life of the party!

While most of HAC’s professional development sessions were well attended, the courses dealing with the implementation of our new HAC Template Offers of Employment and Averaging Agreements, and our new HAC Policy Manual for Helicopter Operations were standing-room-only affairs. Both of these products were developed by HAC with the assistance of our operator-members, and both of these courses were offered free-of-charge by the Ottawa-based law firm of Emond Harnden LLP.

Some concerns were raised about the movement of our OEM Technical Briefings from their traditional slot on Committees Day, so this is an issue that HAC has undertaken to resolve for our Montreal 2014 Convention taking place Nov. 7-9 (mark your calendars, now).

HAC has a brand new set of by-laws – effective Sept., 1 2014 – to bring us into compliance with the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (CNCA). Seven new board members were elected at the show, including two new associate board members. Joining the team as new associates are Randy Simonneau of Executive Flight Centre and Steve Williams of Emond Harnden LLP. HAC would also like to welcome one new operator board member, Ron Ellard of Ops Mobil Inc.

Also re-elected to the HAC board are Sylvain Seguin of CHL, Candace Moakler of Cougar Helicopters, Gary McDermid of Helifor and Brad Fandrich of Valley Helicopters. Jen Norie of VIH and Teri Northcott of Resource Helicopters will serve one more year on the board before their positions are up for election. Stepping down from the board were Grant Louden of Skyline Helicopters and Maury Wood of Avialta.

The new HAC Speaker Series presentations at this year’s event were well received, as were the HAC committees.

Last, but certainly not least, Sergei Sikorsky’s luncheon presentation was one of the highlights of the convention. Our thanks go out to Sikorsky, a United Technologies Company, for sponsoring the event. Sergei made his presentation to a full house, and his memories of his father, Igor Sikorsky, and the early days of the helicopter industry clearly resonated with the crowd.

There were a couple of moments that were particularly memorable for me. Some of the photos of Igor “teaching himself to fly” in the VS-300 while tethered to the ground caused me to break into a cold sweat – it was scary enough for me, with an instructor. There was also a short video clip that evoked gasps from the audience – it showed Igor operating the VS-300 at low-level, and we could plainly see the “travel” in the cyclic was about 12 inches every second or two – and in all directions. It impressed me that maybe some of the cables were a little loose. But naturally, there wasn’t any reason to be concerned – Igor’s trademark bowler hat would certainly have provided him with protection.

I must confess that your chair, Canadian Helicopters’ Sylvain Segui, and I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with Sergei and his wife, Elena. During the convention, we were regaled with stories of Sergei’s childhood, including meetings with visitors to the Sikorsky home, such as Howard Hughes, the Lindbergh family and Ginger Rogers.

And let’s not forget, as Igor Sikorsky so aptly pronounced: “If a man is in need of rescue, an airplane can come in and throw flowers on him, and that’s just about all. But a direct lift aircraft could come in and save his life.” So it goes for those who choose to work in and support HAC and the dynamic Canadian helicopter industry.


Fred Jones is the president/CEO of the Helicopter Association of Canada and a regular contributor to Helicopters magazine.

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