What type of present do you get for a trade association that celebrates its 75th anniversary this December? That’s really a trick question, because HAI already has everything it needs to host its own celebration, and no gifts are required. The celebration will highlight the present with an eye toward the future.

“Instead of commemorating HAI’s past, we are choosing to celebrate our industry and where it stands today,” says James Viola, HAI president and CEO. “That said, we are truly grateful for the past staff and board members whose leadership brought HAI to where we are today.”

On Dec. 13, 1948, a handful of operators and Art Fornoff, a representative from Bell Helicopter, met at the offices of AF Helicopters in Burbank, California, to form a helicopter association for the collective benefit of the industry. The group initially chose the name Helicopter Council but changed it the following year to California Helicopter Association (CHA). In 1951, the group’s 17 members voted to change the organization’s name yet again, to Helicopter Association of America, but the change didn’t officially take effect until late 1954. The current name, Helicopter Association International, was adopted in 1981.

“Our industry has evolved significantly since HAI was founded and since we last changed our name, in the 1980s,” says Viola. “Last year, I announced that we were weighing new options. I can say now that part of our anniversary celebration in Anaheim will include a special announcement about that name change.”

HAI will celebrate the industry and the association’s 75th anniversary in two phases. During the month of December, around the date of the actual Dec. 13 anniversary, HAI will publish a special edition of ROTOR magazine that will be unlike any previous version. It will honor more than 40 types of helicopter missions and include profiles of industry leaders and others who work in vertical aviation every day. HAI is also working with Ned Dawson of Kia Kaha Media to produce a special anniversary aircraft identification poster.

During HAI HELI-EXPO 2024, Feb. 26–29 (exhibits will be open Feb. 27–29) in Anaheim, California, activities will include a special 75th anniversary video, events at special functions, the distribution of anniversary pins, and an announcement regarding HAI’s name change.

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