HAI Convention News

HAI Salute to Excellence Award Winners

 - September 29, 2006, 5:53 AM

    Aviation Maintenance Technical Award

Robert Jones of Air Logistics in Fairbanks, Alaska, has contributed to the helicopter industry for four decades by performing exemplary work behind the scenes, regardless of the environment. He has served on the North Slope of Alaska, on tuna boats in the Pacific, in the jungles of Indonesia and in the Australian desert.

    Aviation Repair Specialist Award

Bruce Currier, vice president of avionics for Evergreen Helicopters, has been one of the operator’s lead avionics engineers since 1975 and has traveled to every continent supporting the company’s missions. He served with the U.S. Air Force for eight years.

    Joe Mashman Safety Award

David Whyte, retired from Alpine Helicopters in Kelowna, B.C., is being cited by HAI for his promotion of safety and awareness throughout the industry.  As a manager in Newfoundland, he pioneered the company’s IFR operations and led international activities as chief check and training pilot in Singapore and chief pilot in Perth, Australia. Whyte purchased Alpine Helicopters with Pat Aldous in 1988 and set new standards for safe helicopter skiing operations. He has served 15 years on the HAI Safety Committee.

    Outstanding Certified Flight Instructor Award

Richard “Ric” Juve Forns, senior flight instructor for Bell Helicopter, has been a flight instructor for 35 years, accumulating more than 10,000 hours of flight instruction with more than 3,000 students, amassing a total of 22,000 accident- and violation-free hours. He began flying with the U.S. Army serving in Vietnam. He has taught at the Bell training facility for 15 years and has worked as an instructor throughout Central and South America, the Pacific Rim and Europe.

    Agusta Community Service Award

Whirly-Girls International is being recognized for its dedication to advancing women in helicopter aviation. Its 1,362 members from 43 countries include women in corporate, commercial and military positions. Whirly-Girls annually awards an average of $40,000 in scholarships to female pilots.

    Eurocopter Golden Hour Award

Robert McMullan, chief pilot for West Michigan Air Care in Kalamazoo, is being recognized for advancing the use of helicopters in the Air Medical Service industry. After a career with the U.S. Army including two tours in Vietnam, he served as a civilian instructor for six years. McMullan has worked in the EMS industry for 20 years, the last 10 as director of flight operations for West Michigan Air Care and its predecessors, Borgess Inflight and Bronson Careflight.

    MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award

Capt. Don Roby, Baltimore County Police Dept. precinct commander, Towson, Md., receives an award for advancement of the crime suppression concept of helicopter patrol. A 25-year veteran of the department, Roby served as aviation unit commander from 1993 to 2001, leading it through transition from Hughes TH-55A to the turbine Bell OH-58. Under his leadership, the unit increased its operating hours from 500 to 2,000 per year, along with a growth in personnel, equipment and aircraft.

    Excellence in Communications Award

Bill Wagstaff, senior editor, Aviation International News (sister company of HAI Convention News), Midland Park, N.J., specialized in rotary-wing coverage from 1988 until late 2003. He died in February 2004. His monthly column on rotorcraft always dealt with subjects most important to people in the helicopter industry, and he worked tirelessly to investigate a story and provide a balanced viewpoint. Wagstaff displayed a profound knowledge of the industry and his writing captured the attention of readers.

    Helicopter Maintenance Award

Gary Grage, senior technical advisor, Columbia Helicopters, Portland, Ore., began his career with Columbia as a structural repair mechanic in 1972. In 1980 he was asked to head the company’s R&D and special projects group. In 2001 he was promoted to vice president of maintenance.

    Lawrence D. Bell Memorial Award

Dr. Walter Comeaux served as a member of the HAI board and as a former HAI Safety Committee chairman. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, Dr. Comeaux contributed time and medical expertise for the helicopter community through active and regular participation in HAI. He was instrumental in developing the HAI Safety Manual, was awarded the Joe Mashman Safety Award in 1993 and is an HAI honorary lifetime member.

    Robert E. Trimble Memorial Award

John Quackenbush, pilot, Hillcrest Aviation Co., Lewiston, Idaho, and Helicopter Express, Atlanta, Ga., has logged more than 16,000 hours in mountainous terrain–13,000 in helicopters–with a demonstrated commitment to safety. Quackenbush flew a CH-46D in Vietnam before turning to flying for Columbia Helicopters and several other operators and governmental agencies in the Northwest, where he did fire work, predator control, seismic exploration, snow surveys and other commercial projects.