Welcome to Texas!
As the global vertical lift industry descends upon Dallas, Texas, for HAI HELI‑EXPO 2022, I’m thinking of how we have triumphed over the adversity of a pandemic, with each vertical aviation operator facing—and meeting—his or her own set of challenges. It’s during these times of uncertainty when the grit of the people is measured. Our industry has demonstrated a resolve to succeed, and HAI continues to support our members on a worldwide scale. One way we’ll do that is to provide our industry with a safe, in-person HAI HELI‑EXPO® experience.
My first Expo was in 1993, in Miami, Florida. I was selected to fly a Sikorsky S-55QT helicopter—an aircraft being introduced to the industry as the Whisper Jet—to the convention center for display. What an opportunity!
As a young person, I was blessed to have no fear of engaging with new people. At HAI HELI‑EXPO, this is a good trait to have. The show floor is filled with like-minded people who have come to gain new opportunities, meet people, or find a new product or service. As I began walking the show floor, I felt a euphoric sense of freedom as I explored this new part of aviation.
On the second day of the show, I was admiring a beautiful Bell 209 with animal-skin seats when a guy with long, blond hair came over. We spoke for a while about the Cobra and how he had built this ship himself. That man was Chuck Aaron, who went on to become a global helicopter sensation flying the Red Bull Bo 105.
Many of the people I met that year would become lifelong friends and colleagues. You may not immediately realize all the value you get by attending HAI HELI‑EXPO, but I’ve found that industry awareness and opportunities follow my attendance there.
At another Expo a few years later, I attended the HAI Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC) and was amazed at the caliber of instructors. There were test pilots, production pilots, FAA inspectors, helicopter manufacturers, and several career instructors—all industry icons sharing their experience and knowledge with other flight instructors. Today, I’m the chief instructor of the longest-running FIRC in existence, held annually at each year’s show.
Nearly 25 years after that first Expo, I was humbled that the HAI membership allowed me to represent their interests as an HAI board member. HAI HELI‑EXPO 2022 is a capstone in my tenure as chairman of the HAI Board of Directors, and I can’t think of a better finish than a show that will bring the industry together again.
The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas (KBHCCD) is a long-standing venue for our show, located right in the heart of downtown Dallas, providing attendees and vendors with ample activities within a short walking distance or shuttle bus ride. A unique feature of the city is the Dallas CBD Heliport/Vertiport, which is colocated with the KBHCCD and is the world’s largest urban elevated heliport/vertiport. During HAI HELI‑EXPO 2022, attendees will be able to fly to and from local airports directly to the KBHCCD. Additionally, local charter and tour flights will be available to enhance the overall vertical lift experience for show attendees.
We at HAI are excited to share with you all that HAI HELI‑EXPO 2022 and Dallas have to offer. So bring your cowboy hat and boots, say “Howdy,” and enjoy the greatest vertical aviation show on Earth. See you there!