HAI/Dan Sweet photo

Send us your nominations for this prestigious industry honor, which celebrates the highest standards of professionalism in vertical aviation.

Within the vertical aviation industry are pilots, mechanics/engineers, safety professionals, and others who go above and beyond to pursue professional excellence. Their dedication is an inspiration to us all. The HAI Salute to Excellence Awards were begun to recognize such outstanding achievement.

Do you know such a professional? If so, HAI is hoping you’ll tell us their story and nominate them for the 2024 Salute to Excellence Awards program. The awards are open to individuals, teams, and organizations that work with helicopters and remotely piloted aircraft systems (uncrewed aircraft systems, or drones).

“We are celebrating HAI’s 75th anniversary this year, so we are really hoping to receive some truly noteworthy nominations,” says HAI’s Dan Sweet, Salute to Excellence Awards program co-administrator. “If you’ve long thought that someone you know deserves to be recognized for their contributions to their business or our industry, we strongly encourage you to make the effort and send in a nomination.”

Anyone may submit a nomination, and anyone may be nominated. HAI membership isn’t required. Award descriptions and criteria, as well as additional information about the awards process and profiles of past winners, are available at rotor.org/events/salute-to-excellence. Nominations will be accepted through Oct. 1, 2023.

“Our selection committee looks for people whose passion and desire for excellence have made a difference for their colleagues, their community, or the industry,” says Sweet.  “If you’ve previously nominated someone who wasn’t selected, we encourage you to try again. It’s not unusual for award winners to be nominated once or twice before the selection committee chooses them.”

“Nearly every one of us knows a person who meets that qualification,” Sweet continues. “Did they make others better through their guidance, instruction, or example? Did they perform a heroic act or produce exceptional work over the course of their career? Perhaps they conducted a courageous operation that made the news. Tell us about them, and we may be able to honor their contribution to the industry with a Salute to Excellence Award.”

The winners of the awards will be honored at HAI HELI-EXPO 2024, Feb. 26–29 (exhibits open Feb. 27–29), in Anaheim, California. Also at the 2024 show, HAI will celebrate the association’s 75th anniversary, which takes place Dec. 13, 2023. Multimedia exhibits will be on display to honor our industry’s remarkable achievements since HAI’s founding in 1948.

The 10 Salute to Excellence Awards categories are:

The Golden Hour Award recognizes the efforts of an individual, group, or organization that, through a particular activity or contributions over time, has advanced the use of helicopters or uncrewed aircraft systems (UASs) in the vital mission of air medical transport.

The Pilot of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding single feat performed by a helicopter pilot or UAS aircraft pilot during the past three years or extraordinary professionalism over a period of time. Nominees must be active helicopter pilots.

The Lifetime Achievement Award salutes excellence in management and leadership. The award is granted to an individual for long and significant service to the international helicopter or UAS aircraft community. Nominees need not be licensed pilots.

The Safety Award acknowledges outstanding contributions in the promotion of safety and safety awareness throughout the international helicopter or UAS aircraft community.

The Communications Award is given to the individual or organization in aviation media achieving the most creative and distinct dissemination of information about the helicopter or UAS aircraft industry.

The Law Enforcement Award recognizes an individual or organization that has contributed to the promotion and advancement of helicopters or UAS aircraft in support of law enforcement activities. Nominees are not limited to pilots or law enforcement personnel.

The Maintenance Award recognizes an individual for long-standing excellence in helicopter or UAS aircraft maintenance, maintenance instruction or supervision, or a single significant contribution to helicopter maintenance.

The Humanitarian Service Award is presented to the person or people who best demonstrate the value of helicopters or UAS aircraft to the communities in which they operate by providing aid to those in need. The award may be for a particular mission or for outstanding service over a period of time.

The W.A. “Dub” Blessing Flight Instructor of the Year Award recognizes superlative contributions by a helicopter or UAS aircraft flight instructor in upholding high standards of professionalism.

The Matthew S. Zuccaro Land & LIVE Award recognizes superior decision-making, professionalism, and coordinated actions that significantly reduced the likelihood, severity, or consequences of a helicopter accident. At the sole discretion of the judges, this award may be presented to three recipients each year: one for pilots, one for flight crews, and one for maintenance personnel.

For a list of previous Salute to Excellence Awards winners and to nominate an individual, group, or organization for a 2024 award, visit rotor.org/events/salute-to-excellence.

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The leading resource for aviation news within the helicopter and vertical lift industry. Affiliated with Helicopter Association International (HAI).