HAI announces pilot and flight instructor of the year awardees

HAI announces pilot and flight instructor of the year awardees 12 Jan, 17, Source: Helicopter Association International

HAI has announced that Robert Fournier and Trent Vick are the 2017 winners of HAI’s Salute to Excellence Appareo Pilot of the Year Award. In addition, Nick Mayhew, senior program manager, L3 Link Simulation and Training, is the 2017 winner of HAI’s Salute to Excellence W.A. “Dub” Blessing Flight Instructor of the Year Award (sponsored by H. Ross Perot, Jr. and the Perot family). The awards will be presented at HAI’s Salute to Excellence Awards dinner at HAI HELI-EXPO 2017 in Dallas.

Appareo Pilot of the Year Award

Robert Fournier was just three years old when he saw a Sikorsky Skycrane lift Toronto’s CN Tower antenna. From then on, he was set on an aviation career. After obtaining his commercial fixed-wing rating, Fournier won a scholarship to the helicopter flight training program at Canadore College in North Bay, Ontario. After spending five years flying various charter assignments in Northern Canada, he took a position with Helicopter Transport Services (HTS), based in Ontario, Canada. After 16 years, Fournier is still with HTS.

Trent Vick’s interest in aviation was sparked by a 2008 presentation on medical careers that included a fly-in by a helicopter air ambulance out of Missoula, Mont. Vick joined the U.S. Air Force in 2009 to fund his helicopter flight training at Hillsboro Aero Academy, formerly known as Hillsboro Aviation. After completing his commercial rating, he was hired by HTS as an S-61 copilot. Vick also is a flight instructor at Hillsboro.

Fournier and Vick were paired on a call-when-needed contract, fighting fires all over the northwest. In the summer of 2016, while working another fire in Riggins, Idaho, they received an emergency dispatch to the Copper King Fire. A large wind event had caused the fire to nearly triple in size in 24 hours. Steep terrain and 50-knot winds made the fire difficult to control. The two pilots worked several long days dipping water from a deep spot in the Clark Fork River near Thompson Falls. Their tireless efforts and outstanding professionalism helped contain the fire that threatened ground crews and kept it from progressing to nearby homes.

During their many water runs, Fournier and Vick noticed a small boy waving excitedly each time their helicopter returned. He was transfixed by the sight of the aircraft that was helping his dad, a firefighter who was also working on the Copper King Fire. After their last flight of the day, Fournier and Vick set out to find their fan. Each of them had chosen an aviation career because of a chance encounter when they were young, and they wanted to offer the little boy the same opportunity. Commenting on the pilots’ visit, the boy’s grandfather said, “I had already been impressed with their fire suppression skills. I am now more impressed with their hearts.”

W.A. “Dub” Blessing Flight Instructor of the Year Award

Nick Mayhew’s commitment to improving the safety and image of the professional flight instructor is demonstrated day in and day out. In addition to his own work as a flight instructor, he strives to instill the highest level of professionalism when mentoring other flight instructors. His dedication to detail and “doing the right thing” is a testament to his character and work ethic.

As chair of the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) Training Work Group, Mayhew has been instrumental in leading major projects to completion. Mayhew has been a strong advocate for improving pilot performance related to autorotations and emergency procedures training. Through the USHST Training Working Group, Mayhew and his team have been tenacious in advising on several FAA and industry best practices for protecting pilots and instructors while performing these maneuvers.

Over the past several years, he has helped breathe life into the Helicopter Certificated Flight Instructor Special Emphasis Program — aimed at addressing safety concerns — in collaboration with the FAA’s Orlando Flight Standards District Office, Bristow Academy and other Florida-based flight schools. He continues to work tirelessly to promote this program nationally in order to strengthen its purpose and benefits.

Mayhew has also been a leader in setting up the “Reel Safety” library of five-minute video clips on the International Helicopter Safety Team and USHST websites, designed to help pilots better understand subjects such as autorotations, risk management, preflight planning, inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions and emergency procedures training. He has sponsored the development of more than a dozen action-packed educational videos, with more to be released soon.

The awards will be presented at the annual Salute to Excellence Awards dinner during HAI HELI-EXPO 2017. HAI HELI-EXPO®, the world’s largest helicopter trade show and exhibition, will be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, March 6–9, with the exhibit hall open March 7–9.

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