To view the 2012 awards video, click here
Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance Award
Todd A. Smith
Director of Maintenance, Bristow Academy, Inc.
Safety in the air begins on the ground.
That is why an effective maintenance program is so essential.
Following eight years of service with the U.S. Marine Corps, where he performed overhaul on General Electric turbine engines, Todd A. Smith joined Helicopter Adventures, Inc. in 1996, becoming director of maintenance in 2000. Helicopter Adventures was acquired by Bristow Group and renamed Bristow Academy, Inc. in 2007.
Responsible for the academy’s entire fleet of 70 helicopters and 40 technicians in three locations, Smith instigated an apprenticeship program that helps those interested in becoming airframe and powerplant technicians learn from Bristow technicians while working in the academy’s repair stations. Always an advocate of active, effective communication between the technicians who maintain the aircraft and the pilots who fly them, Smith also initiated a program that requires all Bristow Academy newhire pilots to spend their first week in the maintenance shop working alongside the technicians. As a member of the Bristow Group’s Maintenance and Engineering Standards Team, Smith is an avid proponent of human-factors training and of safety management systems. The academy’s repair stations operate under a “just culture” model, and Smith strongly encourages his staff to raise safety concerns without fear of retribution.
In 2005, Smith joined the HAI Technical Committee, where he has contributed to the success of numerous projects, including the committee’s Safety Management System DVD. He has served as the committee’s secretary since 2007.
Safety in the air begins on the ground. That is why an effective maintenance program is so essential. Todd A. Smith embodies the culture of ensuring safety through high maintenance standards and is therefore the ideal recipient of this year’s award.
Sikorsky Humanitarian Service Award
The Crew of UNO-838
The professionalism of the crew of UNO-838 saved the lives of 23 U.N. peacekeeping troops.
On Nov. 26, 2009, the crew of a UTair Mil-8 helicopter flying a transport mission for the United Nations (U.N.) had landed in the village of Dongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, when pilot-in-command Sergey Ignatov received a message that U.N. peacekeepers in the area had come under fire from a hostile force and needed immediate evacuation.
Wasting no time, Ignatov ordered the helicopter restarted as the U.N. troops arrived, followed closely by the hostile forces who had now begunfiring at the helicopter. While the crew hurried to get the peacekeepers on board, a bullet went through the helicopter’s windshield, missing Ignatov’s head by inches. Several other bullets struck copilot Yuriy Chigayev’s seat. Twenty-three peacekeepers were brought on board in less than three minutes, all while under continuous fire.
As the helicopter headed back to its base nearly 300 kilometers away, flight engineer Vyacheslav Alberti, who was in the cabin treating the wounded, despite being wounded himself, reported the smell of kerosene in the cabin. An external fuel tank had been punctured by a bullet and the aircraft was losing fuel with no access to the crossfeed valve that could stem the flow. After reviewing options, Ignatov and Chigayev opted to land at a closer airfield while flight attendant Dmitriy Shmidt tended to the wounded. All survived.
It was later determined that the helicopter had been struck at least 15 times, with damage to the fuselage, aft cargo doors, rotor blades, engine cowling, and tail bumper. In the cockpit, the control panel had also been struck. The professionalism of the crew of UNO-838 while under fire, and their decisive actions taken when faced with additional in-flight problems, saved the lives of 23 U.N. peacekeeping troops.
AgustaWestland Safety Award
Chairman and CEO, Sandel Avionics, Inc.
Time and again, Gerry Block has demonstrated his commitment to enhancing aviation safety.
In the early 1990s, Gerry Block, an engineer and fixed-wing pilot, concluded that emerging rearprojection technology could bring high-quality color displays into the general aviation cockpit. In 1997, he founded Sandel Avionics, and by 1998, had won certification for the first electronic horizontal situation indicator (EHSI)/moving map display for general aviation aircraft.
As an instrument-rated single- and multi-engine pilot, Block understood the risks of making a controlled flight into terrain in reduced visibility. By 2002, he had developed the first compact terrain avoidance and warning system (TAWS) designed specifically with general aviation pilots in mind.
When the FAA issued its minimum operating performance standards for a helicopter version of TAWS, Block recognized that the standards did not go far enough to address the needs of real-world rotary-wing operations. The standard required alerts at 500 feet above ground level (AGL), but such a standard would cause frequent so-called nuisance alerts for helicopter EMS and law-enforcement operators, fire fighters, and others who frequently fly low-level missions. Block and Sandel developed a system sensitive enough to issue alerts beginning at approximately 150 feet AGL. Under Block’s direction, Sandel has also developed software to cope with one of the other low-level hazards helicopter operators face: power lines and other high-tension wires.
Time and again, Gerry Block has demonstrated his commitment to enhancing aviation safety — for helicopters and for all aviation. Such commitment makes him the ideal recipient of the 2012 AgustaWestland Safety Award.
W. A. (Dub) Blessing Certified Flight Instructor of the Year Award
Sponsored by H. Ross Perot, Jr., and the Perot Family
Terry G. Cole
Era Helicopters LLC
Few people are more important to aviation safety than the instructors charged with providing initial and
recurrent pilot training.
Terry G. Cole’s aviation career began in 1961 as a 14-year-old cadet in the Civil Air Patrol in Ohio. Since then, he has amassed more than 20,000 flight hours, including nearly 16,000 in helicopters — more than 8,000 of which have been in helicopter instruction.
Cole joined the U.S. Army in 1966 and served three tours in Vietnam: one on the ground and two flying six different types of helicopter. On his return home, Cole, by now an instructor pilot, standardization instructor pilot, and instrument instructor pilot, taught the Examiner’s Course at Ft. Rucker in Alabama. After retiring from the Army in 1977, he served as a Department of the Army civilian flight simulator instructor at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. In 1978, Cole began flying and instructing for Offshore Helicopters — which later became part of Bristow — in Louisiana, Scotland, Egypt, Nigeria, Australia, and Trinidad. He joined Era Helicopters in 1982, where he has served as director of safety, director of training, and as 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.
For the past 20 years, Cole has also served as a helicopter FAAdesignated pilot examiner. Upon reaching 15,000 accident- and violation-free flight hours, Cole received the HAI Pilot Safety Award.
Few people are more important to aviation safety than the instructors charged with providing initial and recurrent pilot training. Salute to Excellence 6 Few people are more important to aviation safety than the instructors charged with providing initial and recurrent pilot training. Terry G. Cole has been passionate about aviation for more than 50 years. This commitment is why he has been named the W.A. (Dub) Blessing Certified Flight Instructor of the Year for 2012.
Eurocopter Golden Hour Award
25th Infantry Division Huey Crew, Vietnam Helicopters
The 25th Infantry Division Huey Crew created a lifesaving miracle that day for four people caught up in disaster.
On Sept. 16, 2011, a stunt pilot lost control of his P-51 Mustang and crashed into the spectator area at the Reno Air Races in Nevada. At the time, Vietnam Helicopters was displaying its painstakingly refurbished 25th Infantry Division Bell UH-1H Huey and received an urgent request to fire up and help transport mass casualties. Aided by the crew of another aircraft, members of the Huey crew pushed their threeton aircraft uphill by hand to where another crew member had arranged for a fuel truck to meet them. After refueling, they pulled out two jump seats to clear the deck for stretchers and hover-taxied over to the accident site. The 25th Infantry Division Huey Crew created a lifesaving miracle that day for four people caught up in disaster.
They loaded two stretcher cases including a spectator who had visited the Huey less than an hour before and two ambulatory patients who were strapped into the door gunners’ seats. Although neither Huey pilot knew exactly where the hospital was, a combination of skill and good fortune would help them complete their mission. As they were departing, a local medevac helicopter landed to pick up other injured. It passed the Huey, giving the crew something to follow to the hospital, where the Huey crew set down in an adjacent park to be met by hospital emergency personnel.
Although the accident claimed 10 lives that day, all four patients transported by the crew of the 25th Infantry Division Huey survived. Just as other Huey crews have done before them, the 25th Infantry Division Huey Crew created a lifesaving miracle that day for four people caught up in disaster. And that is why they are the recipients of the 2012 Eurocopter Golden Hour Award.
Excellence in Communications Award
Editor-in-Chief, Rotorcraft Pro Media Network
In addition to being editorin-chief of Rotorcraft Pro Magazine, Burks has produced dozens of industry-related
videos and has written and distributed e-books.
Lyn Burks began his flying career nearly 20 years ago as a popular and well-respected flight instructor in the South Florida market. A 6,000-hour pilot, he has instructed and has flown corporate, electronic news gathering, charter, utility, and EMS missions. Burks ventured into the communications field when he recognized that the helicopter community, although small, was disconnected. In 2001, he acquired the Internet domain name, JustHelicopters.com, and has not looked back.
JustHelicopters.com offers something for virtually every segment of the helicopter community, from would-be pilots looking for a flight school, to job listings, news, photos, and discussion forums. Burks’s passion for helping the helicopter community tell its story continued to grow as he developed partner websites: VerticalReference.com, JustHelicopters.TV (a helicopter video channel), and Helicopter Salaries.com.
Interest in helping other helicopter pilots succeed led Burks to develop the HeliSuccess educational seminars. Since 2008, these seminars have brought together pilots, mechanics, and operators, with the goal of educating people new to the industry about its various sectors, as well as providing career-planning advice for the helicopter industry. In addition to being editor-in-chief of Rotorcraft Pro Magazine, Burks has produced dozens of industry-related videos and has written and distributed e-books on topics ranging from becoming a helicopter pilot, transitioning from military to civilian pilot, and résumé writing for helicopter pilots and mechanics.
For his efforts to help the many segments of the helicopter community communicate more effectively, Lyn Burks is the 2012 recipient of the Helicopter Association International’s Excellence in Communications Award.
Bell Helicopter Lifetime Achievement Award
Michael Dee Atwood
President, Aviation Specialties Unlimited, Inc.
Atwood quickly saw that even this early night-vision system increased pilot situational awareness and operational safety.
Michael Dee Atwood, founder and president of Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU), is honored for nearly two decades of work to implement one of the most significant safety enhancements ever introduced into the civilian helicopter market: night-vision goggles (NVGs).
Atwood first became a proponent of night-vision systems in 1978 while serving in the U.S. Army. Using a system originally designed for ground troops and modified for aviation applications, Atwood quickly saw that even this early night-vision system increased pilot situational awareness and with it operational safety.
In 1995, after leaving the military, Atwood founded Aviation Specialties Unlimited, a company dedicated to helping civilian pilots — especially helicopter pilots — fly safely in darkness. In addition to providing the actual NVGs, the company retrofits aircraft panels to be NVG-compatible. ASU also provides initial and recurrent NVG training and runs a Part 141 flight school. The company also offers Part 133 (external load) and Part 135 (air charter/air taxi) flight operations.
There are many examples over the years of technology originally designed for the military crossing over and finding application in the civilian world. But few examples have had as significant an effect on safety as the introduction of night-vision equipment to air ambulance and law enforcement helicopter operations. Atwood quickly saw that even this early night-vision system increased pilot situational awareness and operational safety.
In recognition of his promotion of an invaluable tool that has undoubtedly saved lives, Michael Dee Atwood is the worthy recipient of the Helicopter Association International’s highest honor, the Bell Helicopter Lifetime Achievement Award.
MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award
James J. Greeves nremt-p
Master Police Officer, Fairfax County Police Department, Helicopter Division
Greeves has approximately 4,000 flight hours as a tactical flight officer and is responsible for the apprehension of more than 300 suspects.
Master Police Officer James J. Greeves is a 28-year law enforcement veteran, 13 of which have been as a tactical flight officer for the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department’s Helicopter Division. Upon joining the division in 1992, Greeves established himself as a preeminent thermal-imaging tactician. Over the next several years, he researched and procured new equipment and trained other officers on imaging techniques. The maintenance of continued high standards and effective tactics led to the entire division winning the MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award in 1995.
During a three-year period working with the K-9 section, Greeves continued to have his fellow flight officers in mind, pioneering the use of infrared flashers to make K-9 officers and their partners easier to track by helicopter crews using night-vision technology.
In 1997, Greeves and fellow officer James Banachoski were involved in a first, for themselves and the department, when they were tasked Greeves has approximately 4,000 flight hours as a tactical flight officer and is responsible for the apprehension of more than 300 suspects. with searching for a potentially suicidal person. Finding the person in the middle of a school football field armed with a gun, and with officers on the ground unable to safely approach, Greeves hovered for 30 minutes over the field using the helicopter’s PA system to urge the person to surrender. The person dropped the weapon, and the incident was resolved peacefully.
Greeves has approximately 4,000 flight hours as a tactical flight officer and is responsible for the apprehension of more than 300 suspects. In addition, Greeves is a helicopter paramedic who has treated and transported 320 trauma patients, including at least two fellow officers. For his efforts to protect and serve the people of Fairfax County, Va., as part of the Helicopter Division, HAI is proud to present Officer James J. Greeves with the 2012 MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award.
Pilot of the Year Award
“To skillfully land a 22,000-pound helicopter without tail rotor control is nothing less than our own ‘miracle on the bayou.'"
On Jan. 19, 2011, Bristow Group’s Capt. Jay Slagle was pilot-in-command of a Sikorsky S-92, inbound to Bristow’s Galliano, La., base, with 15 passengers and a crew of three on board. As Slagle slowed the aircraft below 50 knots for final approach, the nose of the aircraft began an uncommanded turn to the right that only got worse as power was added to slow it down. Attempted corrections with the tail rotor pedals had no effect.
Immediately and correctly diagnosing the emergency, later determined to be the result of a maintenance discrepancy, Slagle lowered the nose to gain airspeed, while reducing power to minimize rotation. Together with fellow captain Chuck Melton, Slagle regained control. Now they had to decide where and how to land the 11-ton aircraft without effective directional control.
Opting for Galliano’s South Lafourche Leonard Miller Airport, located a few air miles to the east, Slagle and Melton flew a long, shallow approach at 80 knots to keep the aircraft streamlined and aligned with the runway. Once on the runway, Slagle used differential braking to keep the helicopter rolling straight down the runway. In nominating Slagle, Bob Old, Bristow U.S. chief pilot, compared the feat to US Airways Capt. Chesley Sullenberger’s successful ditching of an airliner in the Hudson River, saying, "To skillfully land a 22,000-pound helicopter without tail rotor control is nothing less than our own ‘miracle on the bayou."
Slagle began his flying career with the U.S. Marine Corps in 1969. He currently has more than 22,000 flight hours, including more than 800 in the S-92.
Capt. Jay Slagle’s quick response in saving his aircraft and the 18 souls on board is the reason he is the recipient of the 2012 Salute to Excellence Pilot of the Year Award.