Thursday, August 4, 2011

HAI's Successful HELI-CENTER™ Wraps Up at EAA AirVenture

From Helicopter Association International (posted on their site a few days ago):

HAI's Successful HELI-CENTER™ Wraps Up at EAA AirVenture
HAI President Matt Zuccaro, his wife Doreen, and the female staff of HAI attending EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh Wis. joined the highly energized Women in Aviation International (WAI) AirVenture annual breakfast.

Led by Dr. Peggy Chabrian, WAI is a unique subset of the pilot community. From an amazing woman like Marty Wyall who served as a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot) during WWII, to a young flight instructor from Guyana bringing the dream to other young women in her country for the first time, or NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman, almost 300 women pilots and aviation enthusiasts of all ages, and a few men too, were present. Hersman commented to the group that the goal is to fly safely, and that everyone should "reach out and teach someone else to fly safely."

Chabrian introduced Zuccaro and they both shared plans for collaboration at HELI-EXPO 2012 in Feb. and the WAI conference in March 2012 - both in Dallas. After sharing complimentary copies of ROTOR® magazine featuring a woman pilot on the front cover, and HAI’s newly produced Spotlight on Women in Helicopter Aviation DVD for everyone at the breakfast, Zuccaro announced that an HAI HELI-CENTER™ will be coming to the WAI conference and will feature a panel of women from the helicopter world. He concluded by inviting all the WAI members to stop by the HAI HELI-CENTER™ to watch the Oshkosh Airshow.

The HAI HELI-CENTER™ proved to be the ideal venue to introduce visitors to the Helicopter Foundation International (HFI). Marty Pociask, vice president and curator of HFI, spoke about the Foundation’s many projects, including its mentoring program, the scholarships the Foundation supports as part of its mission, and plans for a virtual history of the helicopter museum. In turn, AirVenture staff allowed him the opportunity to peek behind the scenes and share ideas at the EAA museum, learning a little more about how they cover the helicopter side of flight.

Friday and Saturday were very active days for HAI. Attendees arrived at the HELI-CENTER™ in droves. Matt Zuccaro was interviewed by Craig Fuller, the CEO of AOPA, for their AOPA Live online broadcast on Fuller said that many helicopter pilot members were happy to finally see a significant helicopter presence at the show. And, as was the HAI staff, they were hearing from fixed-wing pilots who had an interest in gaining a helicopter rating. Zuccaro said that the issues facing the fixed-wing community are, in many cases, the same as those facing the helicopter industry. They discussed the important collaboration on the Hudson River corridor accident and the important outcome regarding procedures and practices. Other topics ranged from helicopter use of ADS-B in the Gulf of Mexico, and the advancement in helicopter design.

Later the same day, Zuccaro interviewed Fuller and spoke about the status of the user fee issue. Fuller and NBAA CEO Ed Bolen met with Senator Mitch McConnell Thurs. morning. McConnell told them there was no user fee language in the budget package “at that point.” Fuller also stressed the need for modernization of the ATC system, the need to expand the pilot population, and the importance of safety education. They concluded with Zuccaro and Jason Cammisa from Hillsboro Aviation in Oregon talking with Fuller about how fixed-wing pilots can transition to a helicopter rating.

Advanced helicopter cockpit technology could be found throughout the exhibitors—from the Chelton Flight Systems Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) featured in an Enstrom helicopter outside the HELI-CENTER™, to the new Aspen glass panel and new Garmin G500H. Karen Gebhart, HAI’s vice president of Business Development & Expositions, met with Garmin representatives Scott Frye and Joe Stewart who demonstrated the new features of the dual-screen electronic flight display. It is exciting to see these new technologies and advancements, including HTAWS and Synthetic Vision, coming into the lower to mid end of the helicopter market.

Other drop by visitors at the HELI-CENTER™ included John and Martha King of King Schools, Inc. Both hold helicopter CFI ratings and discussed the transition from fixed-wing to helicopter flight. John told Matt Zuccaro that, “if I had to choose one way to fly of all the ways to fly, helicopters would be my choice.”

The daily drawing winner for July 28 was fixed-wing pilot Bob Graff from Boise Idaho. Bob is considering gaining a helicopter rating and HAI staff provided him with information on the transition.

Friday evening, HAI members visiting the HELI-CENTER™ took advantage of the great seating on the upper deck to watch the spectacular night Airshow and fireworks. Special guests included members of the U.S. military from the Coast Guard Air Station out of Traverse Mich. and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine out of North Dakota and Maine.

On July 30, Matt Zuccaro was interviewed on EAA radio. He spoke about the work HAI does for its members, the diversity of the helicopter industry, the HELI-CENTER™, HELI-EXPO®, transition from fixed-wing flight, and new technologies in helicopter design. He also highlighted the work of HFI.

Throughout the show, HAI staff members Beth Burt, Annette Duplinsky, Derek McGuire, Marty Pociask, Stan Rose, and Dave York and assisted HAI members; took new member applications; entertained families; and provided information on safety, training and the work HAI does on behalf of its members. Lisa Henderson, HAI’s manager of Advertising & Exhibit Sales, did a wonderful job in ensuring the HELI-CENTER™ operations ran smoothly throughout the entire show, and Doreen Zuccaro was the inspiration behind the Kids Copter Corner, which was a huge hit.

Staff at the HAI gift store had fun talking to members and offering new shirts and other items to purchase.

As Matt Zuccaro reflected on the first time appearance of the HELI-CENTER™ at AirVenture, it was very much as EAA President Rod Hightower had summed it up at the Sunday press conference. Regarding HAI’s new presence, he had heard “all positive feedback from EAA members and attendees.” He commented that “HAI had a great presence and location, and fun things to do—including for children.” Many attendees wanted to know how to get up to the HELI-CENTER™ second level to view the Airshow, which was an exclusive area for HAI members and guests.

A special thank you goes to David Osborne, HAI videographer, who provided all the photos from the show; and David Riddy, HAI’s Public Relations assistant, who produced the daily HELI-CENTER™ news as featured in RotorNews®.

An extra mention should also be made of the HAI staff members that did not travel to Oshkosh but did, nevertheless, provide invaluable behind-the-scenes support—in particlular Kristin Lord Anderson, HAI's executive assistant.

Until the next show, blue skies and safe flights!

Karen Gebhart, HAI’s vice president of Business Development & Expositions, has been reporting for RotorNews® daily for the duration of EAA AirVenture.

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