HAI will present its Salute to Excellence Awards tonight in the categories of safety, maintenance, law enforcement, communications, flight instructor, pilot and Lifetime Achievement.
Gerry Block, founder, chairman and CEO of Sandel Avionics of Vista, Calif., will receive the AgustaWestland Safety Award. Sandel Avionics manufactures terrain avoidance and warning systems (Taws) for general aviation fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. “Taws and [helicopter] Taws have saved untold numbers of lives by helping pilots avoid controlled flight into terrain in low visibility situations,” HAI said.
Todd Smith, Bristow Academy director of maintenance, will be honored with the Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance award. Bristow Academy, owned and operated by the Houston-based Bristow Group, is a helicopter flight training operation with three locations in the southeastern U.S. Smith oversees 40 technicians, who maintain 75 aircraft at the three locations. He has established apprenticeship and mentoring programs to train the next generation of helicopter technicians, “while maintaining the highest commitment to safety, both in the shop and in the air.”
James Greeves, master police officer, tactical flight officer and paramedic with the Fairfax County, Va. police department helicopter division, is to receivethe MD Helicopters Law Enforcement award. Greeves has worked with the division for 13 years, accumulating more than 4,000 flight hours. He is credited with having apprehended 300 fleeing suspects. In addition, he has transported 320 patients and saved the lives of two injured fellow officers.
Lyn Burks, online editor for Rotorcraft Professional Media Network, is winner of the Excellence in Communications award. Starting out as a flight instructor in South Florida, Burks acquired JustHelicopters.com in 1999, and in the years since has overseen its growth to include JustHelicopters.tv, VerticalReference.com and HelicopterSalaries.com. “Together, the helicopter-specific media empire demonstrates Burks’s vision, passion and belief in a better industry for all,” said HAI.
Era Helicopters captain Terry Cole is winner of the W.A. (Dub) Blessing Certified Flight Instructor of the Year award. In his career Cole has accumulated more than 20,000 flight hours, nearly 16,000 of them in helicopters. Half of his helicopter time has been devoted to instruction. A 30-year veteran of Era Helicopters, based in Lake Charles, La., Cole has been an instructor or check airman on nine different airframes. He currently instructs in the AgustaWestland AW139, the Eurocopter EC225 and the Sikorsky S-61 and S-76. Cole previously received the HAI Pilot Safety Award upon reaching 15,000 accident- and violation-free flight hours.
Jay Slagle, captain with Bristow Group, is the 2012 HAI Pilot of the Year. The award cites Slagle’s efforts in successfully landing a Sikorsky S-92 with 14 people aboard after loss of tailrotor effectiveness. Inbound to Bristow’s Galliano Base when the emergency occurred, Slagle and captain Chuck Melton diverted to a nearby airport and flew the S-92 onto the runway without an effective tailrotor, using differential braking once on the ground to bring the aircraft to a controlled stop.
Michael Dee Atwood, president of Aviation Specialties Unlimited of Boise, Idaho, is recipient of the Bell Helicopter Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions in introducing night-vision technology to the civilian helicopter fleet. According to HAI, “Atwood and his company, Aviation Specialties Unlimited, took a leading role in identifying and overcoming the challenges of introducing the technology by working with industry and the FAA to develop guidance and training.”