Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance Award
Robert Peterson, Consultant; Columbia Helicopters, Inc.; Aurora, Oregon
Over a span of 46 years, Robert Peterson has become a renowned authority on aircraft hydraulic systems. As such, he is routinely sought after as an instructor and speaker at conferences around the world. Drafted into the U.S. Air Force in 1963, Peterson spent five years working on hydraulics. During that time, he worked on numerous aircraft that included the F-4, B-52, KC-135, C-130, and the C-47 to name but a few. He became known as “Chief Trouble Shooter” — if there was a problem, he was the one called.
Upon leaving the military, Peterson studied for A&P certification, and joined Columbia Helicopters in 1972, working on the hydraulics of their Vertol B107-11 fleet. He reworked the filter and flush system, significantly increasing flight hours. Eighteen months later, Peterson was named Hydraulic Shop Chief, a position he held for over 30 years. Peterson continued to work on purifying hydraulic fluid, achieving purification levels 1 & 2 where level 5 is acceptable, enabling Columbia to maintain a 97 percent mission availability rate, despite operating in some of the most remote and rugged parts of the world. These results were so impressive that the U.S. Army sent several crews to Columbia’s headquarters to learn how to achieve the same results. Peterson also developed new seals for upper boost actuators and lag dampers. As a result, Columbia’s Model 234 helicopter field crews are able to predict when hydraulic manifolds and pumps are going to fail.
In addition to his Air Force service, Peterson spent 31 years in the Air National Guard, always working on aircraft hydraulic systems. Peterson is a member of the Standards of American Engineering (SAE).
Thanks to an exceptional memory, Peterson can recall nearly everything he has ever learned about the hydraulics on any aircraft he has worked on. Still referred to as “Chief Trouble Shooter,” his interest in making a hydraulic system work to optimum efficiency, and willingness to share his knowledge, is why he embodies the spirit of the Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance Award. (Left to right) Maria Weber, Director, Communications; Matt Haugk, Director, Marketing and Strategy, Rolls‑Royce; Robert Peterson; Chairman Mark Gibson
Sikorsky Humanitarian Service Award
U.S. Coast Guard, Crew of CGNR 6033; Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida
On September 7, 2008, the crew of U.S. Coast Guard CGNR 6033 launched from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, to respond to a stricken fishing vessel with four people aboard, 50 miles from the eye of Hurricane Ike in its most dangerous quadrant. LCDR Mark W. Turner and LTJG Daniel B. Cathell skillfully piloted the aircraft through the dangerous semi-circle of the hurricane, replete with deteriorating weather conditions, limited visibility, low ceilings, 40 foot seas, and wind gusts reaching 75 knots.
Completing a challenging visual approach to the vessel, the crew was unable to find a safe hoisting area due to extensive rigging and framework that littered the deck. After a careful risk assessment, it was determined that the survivors should enter the water to be hoisted to safety. Undaunted by the weather, Rescue Swimmer AST3 Jon E. Geskus powered through towering waves for nearly 30 minutes to locate and hoist the first survivor to safety. During the third hoist, Cathell realized that the helicopter was being driven back over the fishing vessel by the hurricane-force winds. Aware that Geskus and the survivor were still dangling below the aircraft, and could possibly be dragged through the rigging, Cathell assertively maneuvered the helicopter safely away from the vessel as Geskus and the survivor were recovered.
In the face of furious winds, 40 foot swells, and limited kicking power due to a lost fin, Geskus successfully rescued all four terrified survivors. Despite exhaustion from his efforts, Geskus rendered medical assistance to all four survivors before they were transferred to a local hospital to be treated for minor hypothermia.
CGNR 6033 worked flawlessly as a team to ensure the safe execution of this critical mission. The newly designated Flight Mechanic, AMT3 Jason A. Menezes, completed his first operational hoist during the mission. Each crewmember’s airmanship and courage stood out as they rose to the challenge, allowing the crew of the stricken vessel to safely return home.
(Left to right) Kevin Bredenbeck, Director of Test and Evaluation, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation; AST3 Jon E. Geskus; AMT2 Jason A. Menezes; LTJG Daniel B. Cathell; LCDR Mark W. Turner, Chairman Mark Gibson
AgustaWestland Safety Award
Terry Palmer, Manager of Rotorcraft Programs; Flight Safety International; Dallas, Texas
Terry Palmer’s impressive aviation career began when she served on the airport board in Mesquite, Texas while obtaining her initial pilot ratings. Soon after, in 1989, she opened an FAA Part 141 Flight School, and managed a Fixed Base of Operation (FBO) while earning her commercial pilot ratings. In 1997, Palmer was hired by Omniflight Helicopters as a training coordinator and Crew Resource Management (CRM) Program Manager — developing and teaching programs nationwide.
In 2000, Palmer moved to FlightSafety International to instruct in Falcon jets, CRM, Approach and Landing Accident Reduction (ALAR), and other human factor courses. In an effort to identify industry safety and training needs, Palmer hosted the successful annual FlightSafety International Helicopter Safety Forums from 2005 to 2008. With Larry Mattiello, President of AirSure Ltd., Palmer formed PALMAT Aviation Consulting, working on educational safety programs for insurance underwriters and brokers.
Palmer has worked with many committees and organizations, including the Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference (HSAC), Tour Operators Program of Safety (TOPS), Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS), and the Air Medical Operators Association (AMOA). She is a member of the HAI Safety Committee, and currently serves as an aviation advisor on the board of the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS). In 2009, Palmer testified on the necessity for simulator and scenario-based training at the NTSB hearing for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS). For the last two years she has served on the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), and the Joint Helicopter Safety Implementation Team (JHSIT).Palmer has been recognized numerous times by the FAA for her tireless dedication to helicopter safety; efforts that have earned her HAI’s 2010 AgustaWestland Safety Award.
(Left to right) Louis Bartolotta, Executive Vice President, Sales, North & South America, AgustaWestland; Terry Palmer, Chairman Mark Gibson
W. A. (Dub) Blessing Certified Flight Instructor of the Year Award
Tom Read, Check Airman and Flight Instructor; Omniflight Helicopters; Addison, Texas
Tom Read has garnered a decorated and prestigious accident and incident-free career, earning 19 Pilot Proficiency awards from the FAA. Read graduated from the U.S. Army Rotor Wing Flight School in 1969, deploying to Vietnam as an aeromedical evacuation helicopter pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star, Air Medal with “V” for Valor and 25 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star for Valor, among others.
Returning from Vietnam, Read served with the 212th Medical Detachment (Air Ambulance) at Fort Meade, Maryland, as an evacuation pilot, Instrument Flight Instructor, Aviation Safety Officer, Flight Operations Officer, and Commander. There he developed the Instrument Flight Training Program to convert pilots with tactical instrument tickets to full instrument ratings. From 1978 to 1981, he commanded the 63rd Medical Detachment (Air Ambulance) in Germany, providing medical evacuation to NATO soldiers. From 1982 to 1987, he served at the Army’s Academy of Health Sciences, Combat Developments Division at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he was responsible for redesigning Army combat field medical organizations. Read retired from military service as a Lieutenant Colonel and Master Army Aviator.
In February of 1989, Read went to work for Omniflight Helicopters, Inc, where he has worked as a line pilot, Part 135 flight instructor, FAA certified check airman, director of training and operations, and chief pilot. Read was principal contact to the FAA during establishment of the Terminal Enroute Procedures (TERPS) to standardize helicopter instrument approaches for users of the country’s medical facilities. He has developed courseware for many training programs using a multimedia approach, and personally developed the Omniflight Flight and Ground Training Program.
Read’s 40 years of committed service to his country and to helicopter flight instruction makes him richly deserving of the 2010 W. A. (Dub) Blessing Certified Flight Instructor of the Year Award.
(Left to right) William Force, Chief Pilot, Hill Air Corporation; Tom Read; Chairman Mark Gibson
Eurocopter Golden Hour Award
U.S. Coast Guard, Crew of CGNR 6573; Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, Alaska
At approximately 6:00 a.m. on January 30, 2009, it was reported that a crewman on a fishing vessel south of Sanak Island in Alaska was suffering a severe head injury. Battling driving blizzard conditions, and with ceilings below 150 feet, poor visibility, and icing, U.S. Coast Guard CGNR 6573, piloted by Lt. Jason S. Smith and Lt. Greg S. Gedemer, made the 90 mile flight to the vessel navigating in and around unforgiving mountainous terrain, relying on charts, GPS, and intermittent radar as visual references came and went.
Arriving on scene, the crew conducted an instrument approach, and then used NVGs to locate the vessel. Having discussed several options to facilitate the safest recovery of the man from the pitching and rolling vessel, the crew engaged in a challenging Dead in the Water (DIW) hoist from 75 feet altitude, encumbered by limited deck space, extensive rigging, high winds, and heavy seas.
With the altitude and the vessel’s bright lights causing disorientation, Rescue Swimmer AST1 Matthew J. Thiessen struck the vessel’s crane. To avoid entanglement, he shed his trail line and aborted the initial hoist. Flight Mechanic AMT3 Blaize D. Potts was able to discern a safer delivery point while Thiessen, ignoring his pain, refocused on another hoist. Despite the vessel being DIW, and now without the stability of a trail line, Thiessen was successfully placed on deck and received the rescue litter. Thiessen quickly packed the injured crewman and untangled the previously discarded trail line, allowing for a more controlled trail line recovery of the litter.
Retrieving the injured crewman, CGNR 6573 departed, providing first aid treatment until landing in Cold Bay to awaiting medical personnel who transported the patient to the Cold Bay clinic. Demonstrating superb planning and local area knowledge, the heroic efforts of the crew resulted in the saving of life under the most appalling conditions.
(Left to right) Marc Paganini, President & CEO; Brenda Reuland, VP Communications and Public Relations, Eurocopter; Lt. Greg Gedemer; Lt. Jason Smith; AST1 Matthew Thiessen; AMT3 Blaize Potts; Chairman Mark Gibson
Excellence in Communications Award
Ken Swartz, North American Editor; Helicopter International and HELiDATA News; Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Since 1974, Ken Swartz has written continuously on the helicopter industry, and has played a leading role in bringing news of the Canadian helicopter industry — the world’s second largest — to international attention. As a high school student, Swartz began contributing news stories to Rotary Review, a helicopter column in Aviation News magazine (UK). Living in the helicopter-saturated city of Vancouver, British Columbia, his first stories were about Okanagan Helicopters and Soloy Conversions.
With the launch of Helicopter International magazine in 1977, Swartz was appointed North American Editor, a position he has held ever since. His Canadian Comments column became a regular feature of the magazine. A year later he reported on the first of 25 HELI‑EXPOs he has attended, covering the convention in San Diego. Swartz’s role expanded when HELiDATA News was launched in 1979, providing twice-monthly industry news. In 1987, Swartz was hired by CANAV Books to research and co-write Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada. This 250-page, 50th anniversary history book includes early sales of Sikorsky helicopters in Canada, and development of the P&WC PT6 as a helicopter powerplant. Between 1985 and 1994, Swartz was the leading editorial contributor to Helicopters Magazine (Canada), covering industry developments and the growth of Canada’s new helicopter manufacturing industry.
In the mid-1990s, recognizing that the helicopter industry was losing many of its pioneers, Swartz recorded the voices of more than 150 of Canada’s pioneers. During the past 10 years, he has written Looking Back articles for Helicopters magazine, contributed stories to Vertical magazine, and served as historical consultant on Operation Lifeline, a television documentary on the Canadian offshore helicopter industry. In 2009, Swartz formed Aeromedia Partners to provide aviation marketing and media services.
In the early 1980s, Swartz served on the Board of the Canadian Museum of Flight in Vancouver, helping the museum acquire rare Bell, Brantley, Piasecki, Sikorsky, and Boeing helicopters. He served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society from 1999 to 2003, and since 2002 has served as Director of Marketing & Communications for the Canadian Air & Space Museum in Toronto. In September 2009, he was appointed Vice-Chairman of the museum, a volunteer position. By effectively publicizing the helicopter’s uniqueness, and through his selfless service to historical preservation, Ken Swartz embodies the fine qualities celebrated by the Excellence in Communications Award.
(Left to right) Ken Swartz, Chairman Mark Gibson
Bell Helicopter Lifetime Achievement Award
John C. Agor, President; Associated Aircraft Group, Inc.; Wappingers Falls, New York
John C. Agor has led a challenging and distinguished career in aviation. His vision of commercial helicopter transportation culminated in the creation and growth of Associated Aircraft Group, Inc. (AAG), a leader in the commercial helicopter industry.
Agor began his aviation career nearly 50 years ago as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. As a dual-rated aviator, Agor served as an Aviation Maintenance Officer, Test Pilot, and Company Commander in Germany, and in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division. Following his discharge, Agor continued to fuel his passion for aviation as a part-time helicopter flight instructor, and in 1980 began working full-time for several Part 135 helicopter operators as Captain, Chief Pilot, and Director of Operations.
In 1989, Agor and two partners formed AAG, a Part 135 charter and aircraft management business based in Danbury, Connecticut. As president, Agor guided the growth of AAG, with his commitment to safe operation, quality service, and customer satisfaction hallmarks of the company. Sustained growth captured the attention of the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation which, retaining Agor as president, purchased AAG in 1999 and began the first fractional helicopter ownership program in the industry.
Through Agor’s leadership, AAG has shown an unwavering commitment to community. In September 2001, following the destruction of the World Trade Center, Agor donated AAG’s fleet to FEMA for rescue and recovery work. In 2005, AAG supplied aircraft and crews in support of Hurricane Katrina recovery operations, for which AAG shared HAI’s 2006 Igor I. Sikorsky Award for Humanitarian Service.
AAG’s success stands as a testament to Agor’s vision, dedication, tenacity, and his commitment to his business, his customers, and this industry.
(Left to right) Max Wiley, Director, Asia Sales, Bell Helicopter; John C. Agor; Chairman Mark Gibson
Bell Helicopter Lifetime Achievement Award
Tim Wahlberg, Chairman of the Board; Evergreen International Aviation, Inc.; McMinnville, Oregon
Wahlberg began his aviation career in 1963, serving as a U.S. Army helicopter mechanic in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and U.S. Army Air Medal with 18 Oak Leaf Clusters. After completing his service, he returned to school and received an Associate of Science degree and A&P license from Lane Community College.
In 1969, Wahlberg joined Evergreen Helicopters, Inc. as a mechanic, and consistently provided high operational readiness from the jungles of Peru to the Arctic. He was promoted to Director of Maintenance in 1972, and in 1976 became Director of Operations at Evergreen Air Center, Inc. where he assumed responsibility for maintenance, production, quality control, modifications, and sales. In 1979, Wahlberg became Vice President of Maintenance for Evergreen International Airlines, Inc., responsible for maintenance, planning, and quality control of a fleet of more than 48 aircraft. In 1986 he was promoted to Executive Vice President, and in 1987 became President. In 2002, Wahlberg became Chairman of Evergreen Aircraft Sales and Leasing Company, and in 2006 was promoted to Chairman of the Board of Evergreen International Aviation, Inc., the parent company of the Evergreen family.
Wahlberg has received numerous awards including the Delford M. Smith Leadership Award for EIA, EHI, and the Evergreen Helicopters’ Bob Fortain Memorial Maintenance Award. Wahlberg served as HAI’s Assistant Treasurer in 2002, Treasurer in 2003, Vice Chairman in 2004, and Chairman for the 2005-2006 term. He has also served as Board Liaison to the HAI Government Contracting and Offshore Committees, President of the International Federation of Helicopter Associations, and Chairman of the Aviation Technology Advisory Committee for Lane Community College. Under Wahlberg’s leadership, Evergreen has experienced a strong focus on safety, service, and profitability. HAI salutes Tim Wahlberg for a lifetime of service and dedication to the international helicopter industry.
(Left to right) Max Wiley, Director, Asia Sales, Bell Helicopter; Tim Wahlberg; Chairman Mark Gibson
MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award
New Zealand Police Air Support Unit; Auckland, New Zealand
The New Zealand Police Air Support Unit (ASU), “Operation EAGLE,” was formed in November 1988 as a three-month trial using airborne police officers to combat rising crime in the city of Auckland. The enormous success of this trial has led to a comprehensive 21‑year operation.
Operations began with a Bell Jet Ranger, followed by a Hughes 500. In March 1989 the decision was made to acquire a twin engine helicopter, and an Aerospatiale AS355 was brought into service. As workload increased, it was recognized that additional support was required, and in July 1991 a second AS355 was added. For the period between June 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, the unit completed 3,403 missions, and the two helicopters now have a combined airframe time of 40,000 flying hours. The aircraft are periodically upgraded with the latest technology to meet the demands of their varying roles.
The ASU is primarily located in Auckland, covering an area of land and sea of approximately 6,700 square miles. However, the unit is also utilized New Zealand-wide, covering an area of approximately 103,000 square miles. The ASU consists of one Sergeant and seven Tactical Flight Officers working two-man shifts between 0700 hrs and 0300 hrs. From routine incidents to serious criminal activity, the ASU plays an integral role in support of Police specialist squads such as the Armed Offenders Squad, Special Tactics Group, and VIP Protection Service. The ASU also supports Fire, Ambulance, Defense Force, Coastguard, Customs, and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry operations.
The ASU is the only Police air support unit in New Zealand and works hard to ensure that standards and procedures are equivalent to industry best practice around the world. HAI congratulates the New Zealand Police Air Support Unit for its contribution to the advancement of helicopter crime-suppression, and for the 21 years of continuous service it has given to the New Zealand public. (Left to right) Dale Christman, Manager, Law Enforcement Sales; Bob Cleland, VP Sales & Marketing, MD Helicopters; Jeff O’Sullivan, AirWork; Sergeant Colin Ware; Chairman Mark Gibson
Pilot of the Year Award
Earl S Palmer, Chief Pilot; Hillcrest Aircraft Company; Lewiston, Idaho
Earl S Palmer’s versatility and quest for professional excellence has been evident in a career spanning nearly 50 years. In 1962 Palmer enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Caribou mechanic, and after flight training was assigned to the 118th Assault Helicopter Company in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for participation in a night re-supply of a besieged outpost under heavy enemy fire. Following active service, Palmer taught pilots to fly the venerable Bell “Huey.”
After leaving the military, Palmer worked in Colorado in a variety of helicopter operations, including building microwave repeaters at 13,000 feet, and the early development of helicopter seismic work in the Western United States. He was also involved in rescuing a group of teenage girls stranded in a blizzard.
In 1975 Palmer joined the Bureau of Land Management at the Idaho Interagency Fire Center, and in 1977 moved to the USDA Forest Service as a helicopter specialist, working to re‑introduce large helicopters to fire operations. Palmer was instrumental in developing equipment and procedures for night heli-torch operations. From 1989 to 1992, Palmer served as Regional Aviation Officer in Portland, Oregon. In 1998 he joined Hillcrest Aircraft Company in Lewiston, Idaho, becoming Chief Pilot in 2001.
Palmer holds an Airline Transport Pilot license with SD-3 rating, Airplane Single- and Multi‑Engine Land, Airplane Single Engine Sea, and Airplane and Helicopter Flight Instructor certifications. He also holds an A&P license with Inspection Authorization. Palmer has logged 13,000 hours of helicopter, and 3,000 hours of airplane flight time.
Throughout his aviation career, Palmer has continually mentored new, young, and old pilots. His outstanding devotion to duty, his technical skills, and mature judgment embody the qualities that the Pilot of the Year Award was designed to recognize.(Left to right) Earl S Palmer, Chairman Mark Gibson.