Come along with us to celebrate the year’s best rotorcraft photos.
If you haven’t heard yet, the theme of 2023 at HAI is Celebrate! This year also marks 75 years that HAI has served our industry through safety, advocacy, education, membership, and our annual HAI HELI-EXPO®—the largest vertical aviation trade show in the world—bringing the industry together to network with and learn from one another, address current issues, and share the latest news.
In the following pages, we celebrate the winners of the 2023 ROTOR Magazine Photo Contest. Their photos will also be on display at HAI HELI-EXPO in Atlanta, Georgia, Mar. 6–9.
Behind every mission is a story, and behind every great picture is an artist. This year, we received submissions from around the world telling amazing stories. And for the second time in the history of the annual contest, one photographer has won two categories.
As you enjoy these compelling photos, we encourage you to consider both the hard work displayed by their subjects and the level of craft required to capture them. These six images reflect the allure of our great industry and all it has to offer.
The ROTOR Magazine Photo Contest will open for its twelfth year on Aug. 1, 2023. Please visit photo.rotor.org to enter.
Grand Prize Winner
Pensacola, Florida, USA
The US Air Force enlisted Air Center Helicopters to conduct special ops training in elite offshore rescue operations using the Airbus H225. Here, a pararescueman, or “PJ,” deploys from the helicopter in a mission simulation. During search-and-rescue missions, such as responding to a stranded boat or downed aircraft, the PJ medically assesses injured persons and assists in hoist operations to get them safely to the cabin.
“Seventeen years ago, by chance, I entered the field of helicopter photography,” says Bond. “I strive for every photograph I take to be a beautiful piece of art, worthy of telling the stories of the incredible, selfless people that save lives and perform unfathomable missions using these incredible machines. As a photographer, I think I see the world a little differently than others. When I capture an image the way I see it in my mind, I get to share a little piece of my vision with the world.”
Helicopters/Drones at Work
Burleson, Texas, USA
This photo shows an Air Center Helicopters Airbus H225 Super Puma beginning a vertical replenishment (VERTREP) mission between a US Military Sealift Command (MSC) T-AKE class ship and a US Navy aircraft carrier. Air Center Helicopters has eight H255s deployed on four MSC ships supporting the US Navy and coalition ships in the 5th and 7th Fleet AORs. Yancey, a retired US Navy pilot, has stayed active in the aviation industry through his employment at Air Center Helicopters as director of US Navy programs.
Helicopters/Drones in the Military
Vacaville, California, USA
This photo of an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter was captured by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Roberson. In the photo, the Knighthawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 is directed to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during flight operations. GHWB is operating in the Atlantic Ocean in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security to ensure access, deter aggression, and defend US, allied, and partner interests.
People and Their Helicopters/Drones
San Diego, California, USA
This photo of a Bell 407 was taken after sling work to upgrade a US Coast Guard repeater site outside of Ketchikan, Alaska, during one of Alaska’s 22:00 sunsets. At the end of a rare, beautiful day, Canning had to grab a photo and take in the moment.
Helicopter/Drone Digitally Enhanced Photos
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Allegheny Health Network’s LifeFlight fleet has five Airbus EC145s, which were introduced in 2007. The EC145 is a light, twin-engine helicopter with a cruising speed of 130 kt. and maximum speed of 145 kt. The EC145’s wide-open, rear-loading cabin allows maximum flexibility to accommodate medical equipment, up to three medical crew members, and a Ferno Powerflexx stretcher.
“No matter how many times I have an opportunity to photograph a helicopter during takeoff or landing, it always feels as exciting as if it was for the first time,” says Slebrich. “The power and magnitude of these aircraft up close is, quite literally, breathtaking. By creating a trusting relationship with the pilots and crew, we’re able to collaborate as teammates, enabling an environment that allows for a view seldom seen.” For this shot, a LifeFlight EC145 takes off from Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport (KBTP).
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
In this photo, Chad Slovik, a Metro Aviation maintenance technician, completes routine maintenance on an Airbus EC145, one of five in Allegheny Health Network’s LifeFlight fleet, at the fleet’s Butler, Pennsylvania, hangar. Slovik and the rest of the Metro Aviation maintenance technician team are an unseen yet integral part of the LifeFlight program, allowing LifeFlight to serve its communities each and every day.
“For myself, this was an awesome opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look into what helps to keep this critical business safe and mission ready 24/7,” says Slebrich.