ROTOR Magazine2018 SpringFrom the Board

Giving Thanks

By June 6, 2018March 26th, 2021No Comments

Through my work on the HAI Board of Directors and several FAA working groups, I have recently gotten to know colleagues from different areas of the helicopter industry — people whom I’m not usually exposed to in my work in public safety aviation. I’ve been impressed with the passion they show for their respective areas of concern within the industry.

As a line pilot for a public safety agency, I never gave much thought to the engineering genius that goes into the modern helicopter. Through the FAA working groups, I’ve met some of the brilliant engineers who design these amazing aircraft. I’m constantly in awe of their analytic ability and the ease with which they solve complex problems.

I don’t have an engineering or manufacturing background; I’m a street cop who grew up working in retail. My dad was a CPA with no mechanical aptitude, a trait that was apparently inherited by me. So maybe I’m just easily impressed, but I don’t think so.

The passion these engineers have demonstrated for designing the safest aircraft and systems possible provides me with a new comfort level as a pilot. So, to all you helicopter engineers running your mathematical formulas to keep us aviators safe, a sincere thank-you.

An equally sincere thank-you goes to the mechanics who maintain the finished product on a daily basis. Your expertise has allowed me to pursue my passion for helicopters — and to go home safely every night for more than 30 years.

Another benefit of participating in these working groups is validation that I work in the part of the helicopter industry in which my passion truly lies. I love to help others by using helicopters to catch bad guys. More specifically, I want to pilot the helicopter while we catch the bad guys.

When I’m not flying, my passion is developing and conducting training events for those involved in public safety aviation so they can complete each mission safely and successfully. Like all of us, I feel I have the best helicopter job in the world. I’m not cut out to be a designer, engineer, maintainer, or even a crew member in any field other than public safety aviation.
This is my final message as chairman, so I’d like to share some parting thoughts. If I had to sum up the last 30 years, in one word, it would be “thankful.”

I’m thankful for the airborne law enforcement pioneers who made a career in public safety aviation possible. Mohammad Ali is credited with saying, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” To have a job where I can serve others — while fulfilling my dream of being a helicopter pilot — is a privilege and an honor.

I’m thankful for the Houston Police Department, which has supported my years of association work and my chairmanship of the HAI Board of Directors. I’m also thankful for the members and staff of the Airborne Public Safety Association and its Board of Directors, who have supported and encouraged my participation on the HAI board. My colleagues in public safety have been with me every step of the way.

I’m thankful for the opportunities that HAI has provided me to make a difference and give back to this amazing industry we are all lucky enough to be a part of. My sincerest thanks to my fellow HAI board members, both past and present, for your guidance and support, and to the HAI staff, who work so hard to promote this industry.

HAI offers us a place to come together as a community, whether that’s to promote safety, discuss technical developments, or just tell a great story or two. And in coming together, we learn a bit about each other.

Most importantly, I’m thankful for my wife and family, whose patience, support, and sacrifice have allowed me to follow my dreams.

Finally, I want to thank all my fellow rotorheads. We work in a unique industry, one that is full of amazing people with a vast array of skills. While I love helicopters, they are, after all, just machines. The positive contributions helicopters provide to society are the result of your efforts.

Give More; Expect Less,



  • Dan Schwarzbach

    Dan Schwarzbach is the 2017–18 chairman of HAI's Board of Directors, a senior police officer for the Houston Police Department, and executive director for the Airborne Public Safety Association.

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Dan Schwarzbach

Dan Schwarzbach

Dan Schwarzbach is the 2017–18 chairman of HAI's Board of Directors, a senior police officer for the Houston Police Department, and executive director for the Airborne Public Safety Association.