Our industry has much to be thankful for–and much for which we should be thanked.

The vast majority of vertical aviation flights support society’s needs. Our contributions to economic prosperity, security, and quality of life require the hard work of every person in our global industry, and it is time they receive some appreciation. So I want to express my gratitude—on behalf of society—to everyone with a role in our industry.

I will start with our first responders. Thank you to the air ambulance teams who sometimes land at well-lit, well-marked heliports and sometimes navigate to the side of a dark highway to take on critical accident victims. Please accept my thanks for your efforts to help all those who are most likely experiencing the worst moments of their lives.

James Viola, HAI president and CEO

Thank you to the airborne law enforcement teams. Whether you support officers on the ground, conduct search-and-rescue operations, or deploy specially trained officers into extreme situations, I am grateful you are in the air to protect us.

Next, I extend my thanks to the firefighters. Firefighting used to be seasonal work, with downtime to recover and plan for the next season. Now the fire season is longer, hotter, and broader, covering more territory. Yet you endure long, hot, smoky days to save lives and property.

Of course, I have to give my former colleagues, the military aviators, a shout-out. Whether you are in combat, providing support after a natural disaster, or responding to a call for assistance from a storm-battered boat, you are there when we need you.

To those who work to build and maintain our electric grid, I say thank you. Modern society depends heavily on electric power, and helicopter crews play a big part in making that power available to us at the flick of a switch.

Some of you work in agriculture and aerial applications, providing food for our tables. Many people do not realize the contributions you make to help farmers be efficient and productive.

The people in the helicopter usually get all the recognition. Many others in our industry contribute too. To the accountants, the record keepers, the human resources teams, and other staff who handle the paperwork and keep the paychecks coming: your support is critical to your team’s success.

Thank you to the regulators. I am confident you have not heard that in a while! I am truly grateful for your efforts. While we can make more progress on harmonization, we have our regulators to thank for the fact that our industry functions as a global community with essential guardrails in place for safety, licensing, and certification.

To the maintenance crews who keep our aircraft airworthy and our pilots and passengers safe: whether you work in a hangar or out in a field, you deserve more credit for your contributions to our industry.

I also want to acknowledge the HAI staff for their dedication in serving the vertical aviation industry. That passion, shared by HAI staff and members alike, is one of the reasons I am confident about our future.

Finally, and most importantly, I thank the HAI membership. Each one of you adds to the strength of our collective voice. Because of your support, HAI is a pacesetter for our industry. If you have any suggestions for how HAI could better serve you in 2023 and beyond, please contact me at president@rotor.org.

Author

  • James Viola

    James A. Viola is HAI’s president and CEO. After a career as a US Army aviator, he joined the FAA, where he served as director of the Office of General Aviation Safety Assurance before joining HAI. A dual-rated pilot, Jim holds ATP ratings in both airplanes and helicopters and is a CFII. Jim can be contacted at president@rotor.org.

James Viola

James Viola

James A. Viola is HAI’s president and CEO. After a career as a US Army aviator, he joined the FAA, where he served as director of the Office of General Aviation Safety Assurance before joining HAI. A dual-rated pilot, Jim holds ATP ratings in both airplanes and helicopters and is a CFII. Jim can be contacted at president@rotor.org.

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