The annual Salute to Excellence Awards dinner, held on Wednesday, March 6, was, for the 50th year, the premier evening event of Heli-Expo. HAI encourages the highest standards of professionalism in the helicopter industry, saluting those who deserve to be recognized for their contributions to the rotorcraft community. This year, Helicopter Association International’s Salute to Excellence Awards recognized the achievements and merits of a few individuals and organizations among its more than 3,000 members.
Gary Rogers of Columbia Helicopters was awarded the Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance Award, which recognizes an individual who has distinguished himself by longstanding excellence in the performance of helicopter maintenance, maintenance instruction or supervision, or a single significant and distinct contribution to helicopter maintenance. Rogers has been responsible for continuing airworthiness training for all of Columbia’s BV-107 and model 234 operations worldwide.
The AgustaWestland Safety Award, acknowledging outstanding contributions in the promotion of safety and safety awareness throughout the international helicopter community, was given to Greg Wyght of CHC Helicopter. Wyght, an expert in safety and quality management, has served as co-chair of the International Helicopter Safety Team’s implementation team.
The W.A. (Dub) Blessing Certified Flight Instructor of the Year Award went to Randy Rowles, vice president and general manager of Era Helicopter’s training center. Rowles, a 12,500-hour pilot, gives generously of his time speaking on safety and training issues. The award recognizes superlative contributions by a helicopter flight instructor in upholding high standards of excellence.
The Excellence in Communications Award was given to Shawn Coyle, recognizing his lifetime body of creative and distinct dissemination of information about the helicopter industry. Coyle has contributed to Rotor & Wing, Professional Pilot, Vertical and Pilot Magazine.
The Bell Helicopter Lifetime Achievement Award went to Roy Fox, retired engineer and chief of flight safety at Bell Helicopter. The award salutes excellence in management and leadership. Fox founded Bell’s system safety engineering group in 1973 and served as Bell’s chief of flight safety from 1992 until his retirement in 2011.
The MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award went to the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA), and was accepted by ALEA executive director Steve Ingley, president Kurt Frisz and CFO Dan Schwarzbach. The organization, established in 1968, promotes and supports the public service and safety mission.
The Pilot of the Year Award, the oldest of HAI’s Salute to Excellence awards, was given to Ruedi Hafen of Canada’s Niagara Helicopters for 40,000 accident- and violation-free hours of flight. The award recognizes an outstanding single feat performed by a helicopter pilot during the year, or extraordinary professionalism over a period of time. In 2011 Hafen rescued stranded New York State Park Police officers above Horseshoe Falls in Niagara using a short-haul technique. This is just one of several dramatic rescues Hafen has performed at the falls. o