Helicopters Magazine

Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award goes to Halvorson

January 20, 2015  By Bell Helicopter

Jan. 20, 2015, Fort Worth, Tx. -  Bell Helicopter honoured Papillon Helicopters founder Elling Halvorson with the Bell Helicopter Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award at the 12th annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards in Beverly Hills on Jan. 16.

The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the rotorcraft industry.

“I’m truly honoured to be awarded with the Bell Helicopter Vertical Flight Hall of Fame award,” said Elling Halvorson. “I’ve been presented many opportunities throughout my life to witness the inspiring work aviation yields and every day I’m humbled by the wonderful experiences we see in the aviation industry.”

Elling is the founder of Papillon Helicopters, the world’s oldest and largest sightseeing company flying an estimated 600,000 passengers a year on its daily tours to the Grand Canyon. He began his story in 1963 when he won a bid to build a water pipeline that stretched 13.5 miles across the Grand Canyon on some of the most difficult terrain in the world. The project turned out to be the single largest helicopter supported construction job ever completed, using more than 25,000 hours of helicopter flight time and six different models of helicopters, including a Bell 204. Elling has demonstrated superior vertical lift capability through his proven success on projects benefitting construction, utility, travel and tourism.

Matt Hasik, Bell Helicopter’s Executive Vice President of Commercial Business, presented Elling with the Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award statuette.


“A visionary, an innovator and a leader in the helicopter industry, Elling is a true pioneer for aviation,” said Hasik. “He continues to share his expertise and passion around the world, and we admire and appreciate his tireless efforts and infectious enthusiasm for the industry.”

Among Elling’s many career accomplishments, he also formed the Tour Operators Program of Safety (TOPS), which is a national organization dedicated to safety as its top priority. TOPS mission is to make helicopter sightseeing tours among the safest type of flying possible. In addition, Elling also developed the “Whisper Jet” helicopter that was certified by NASA as the world’s quietest helicopter and served two terms as Chairman of the Board of the Helicopters Association International (HAI).

Recipients of the Living Legends of Aviation Award include Buzz Aldrin, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoover, Kurt Russell and Sully Sullenberger. The event is produced by the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy and Bell Helicopter is a presenting sponsor of the annual event.


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