Salute to Excellence

Celebrating the highest standards of professionalism in helicopter aviation

HAI is accepting nominations  for the 2021 Salute to Excellence Awards, to be presented at HAI HELI-EXPO 2021 in New Orleans. Through these awards, HAI encourages and celebrates the highest standards of professionalism in helicopter aviation.

Any individual or organization, whether or not they are an HAI member, may submit nominations or be nominated for an award. 

NEW FOR 2021! Whether you call them UAS aircraft, drones or remotely piloted aircraft, the people who operate, maintain or train with these vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft are now eligible for each of our nine Salute to Excellence Awards! Nominate someone you know today!

  • Award Categories
  • Awards Timeline
  • How to Submit a Nomination
  • Tips for Submitting a Winning Nomination
Award Categories

The nine Salute to Excellence Award categories honor those pilots, maintenance technicians, operators, safety professionals, and others who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence that has enriched our industry.

The Golden Hour Award recognizes the efforts of an individual, group, or organization that, through a particular activity or contributions over time, has advanced the use of helicopters or UAS aircraft in the vital mission of air medical transport.

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The Pilot of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding single feat performed by a helicopter or UAS aircraft pilot during the year or extraordinary professionalism over a period of time. Nominees must be active helicopter pilots.

The Lifetime Achievement Award salutes excellence in management and leadership. The award is granted to an individual for long and significant service to the international helicopter or UAS aircraft community. Nominees need not be licensed pilots.

The Safety Award acknowledges outstanding contributions in the promotion of safety and safety awareness throughout the international helicopter or UAS aircraft community.

The Excellence in Communications Award is given to the individual or organization achieving the most creative and distinct dissemination of information about the helicopter or UAS aircraft industry.

The Law Enforcement Award recognizes an individual or organization that has contributed to the promotion and advancement of helicopters or UAS aircraft in support of law enforcement activities. Nominees are not limited to pilots or law enforcement personnel.

The Maintenance Excellence Award recognizes an individual for longstanding excellence in helicopter or UAS aircraft maintenance, maintenance instruction or supervision, or a single significant contribution to helicopter maintenance. This award was previously known as the Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance Award.

The Humanitarian Service Award is presented to the person(s) who best demonstrate(s) the value of helicopters or UAS aircraft to the communities in which they operate by providing aid to those in need. The award may be for a particular mission or for outstanding service over a period of time.

The W.A. “Dub” Blessing Flight Instructor of the Year Award recognizes superlative contributions by a helicopter or UAS aircraft flight instructor in upholding high standards of professionalism.

Awards Timeline
July 15 to October 30 Nominations accepted
October 30, 2020  Deadline for submitting nominations
November 2020  Nominations reviewed by judging panel
November 30 to December 4, 2020  Winners and nominees notified of awards status
January 2021  Salute to Excellence Awards winners announced by HAI
 March 22-25, 2021  Recognition for Salute to Excellence Awards recipients at HAI HELI-EXPO in New Orleans, LA.
How to Submit a Nomination

Any individual or organization, whether or not they are an HAI member, may submit nominations or be nominated for an award. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, October 30, 2020. 

All nomination applications and supporting documentation must be submitted via this online nomination form. Complete a nomination form for each person or organization you wish to nominate. Consider the award categories carefully; a nominee should only be nominated in a single category. 

Tell Us Why and Show Us! We know that your nominee is a great person and very deserving of the award, but you need to demonstrate to the selection committee WHY they should honor your nominee. What did your nominee do that made them stand out among many others in our industry? Please give specific, concise information that supports the nomination.

Be sure to supply supporting documentation, such as awards, letters of recommendation, training certifications, photographs, and newspaper and magazine articles that relate to the nomination. Supporting materials should be uploaded at the same time you submit the nomination. You may need to submit particularly large files using alternative forms of entry. Please contact Dan Sweet, director of public relations and communications for HAI, at dan.sweet@rotor.org or 503-970-4449 if you require assistance.

IMPORTANT: HAI requires that all nominees complete an acknowledgment form confirming their knowledge of the nomination and affirming that, if selected, they will receive the award in person as a VIP guest of HAI at HAI HELI-EXPO in New Orleans in March 2021. Signed acknowledgment forms must accompany all applications for the nomination to be forwarded for judging.

After their selection, winners should be prepared to provide further biographical material, photographs, and film or video to help in preparing videos highlighting their achievement. The videos will be presented during HAI HELI-EXPO 2021 in New Orleans, and on social media.

For further questions regarding the awards and the nominations process, please contact Dan Sweet, HAI director of public relations & communications, at 503-970-4449 or dan.sweet@rotor.org.

Tips for Submitting a Winning Nomination

Again, we know your nominee is a great person and that they do a great job. So tell us their story! Tell us why they stand out from so many other great people who also do a great job! As you describe their achievements, be descriptive in how you express their passion for their job and for the helicopter industry. Imagine how your words might sound throughout a darkened banquet room, with a spotlight shining on your nominee.

Start early. It takes time to prepare a professional nomination packet that makes the case for your nominee. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin collecting supporting materials. Include materials that document your nominee’s achievement: letters of recommendation, awards, training certifications, photographs, and newspaper or magazine articles. You cannot supply too much supporting material in a nomination package.

Demonstrate how your nominee has gone above and beyond. Include specific ways your nominee went beyond the normal responsibilities of the job in pursuit of the highest standards of professional excellence. Consider each award category carefully; make sure you are submitting your nominee for the award category that most suits his/her/their contributions to the industry.

Create a personal snapshot for the judges. Make your nominee stand out as unique, special, and appealing while still conveying professionalism. Include enough personal information so that your nominee’s personality, work ethic, integrity, or other positive traits are evident to the judges.

Be detailed but concise. Present your nomination in easy-to-read bulleted lists or brief paragraphs. Provide details and facts about what your nominee has done, why it was important, and how it impacted pilots, aircraft, airports, flight schools, or the general aviation community at large. Include dates of accomplishments and any quantifiable results. 

Use your nominee as a resource. Interview your nominee and take notes for details or experiences to include in the nomination. The judges need specific, detailed information that will make your application authentic and complete.

Submit early. Give our verifiers the time they need to review your application. If they find a component missing, you may be contacted to submit additional documentation prior to the submission deadline.

Renominate if your candidate doesn’t win. If your nominee doesn’t win this year, try again next year. Revise your nomination to include recent, specific examples, and resubmit it. There is no limit on how many times you can nominate individuals or organizations from year to year. Please note, however, that you should only nominate your candidate in one category per year.

Have your nominee complete the Acknowledgment Form. HAI requires that all nominees complete an acknowledgment form confirming their knowledge of the nomination and affirming that, if selected, they will receive the award in person as a VIP guest of HAI at  HAI HELI-EXPO in New Orleans in March 2021. For the nomination to be accepted and forwarded for judging, signed acknowledgment forms must accompany all applications.