Williams named 2020 HAI Salute to Excellence Flight Instructor of the Year

Dan Sweet Top Story

Helicopter Association International (HAI) is pleased to announce that Dwayne Williams, a retired chief pilot for both Bell and MD Helicopters, is the 2020 recipient of the association’s W.A. “Dub” Blessing Flight Instructor of the Year Award. The award, sponsored by H. Ross Perot Jr. and the Perot family, recognizes superlative contributions by a helicopter flight instructor in upholding high standards of excellence. The award will be presented Jan. 29 at HAI’s Salute to Excellence Awards luncheon at HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim, California.

Williams has the unique distinction of having received five separate nominations this year for the Flight Instructor award, with each nomination coming from a previous recipient of the award.

Williams possesses a solid foundation in helicopters, having begun his flying career in the US Army in 1965. He served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967, where he developed his leadership and flight training skills. After his military service, Williams continued his career as a pilot for Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. in the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1974, Bell Helicopter International offered Williams an exciting opportunity that utilized his military experience as a standardization and instructor pilot: training Iranian Army pilots. He became the chief pilot for the advanced flight program in Iran and continued in that leadership and training role until the close of the program in 1979.

Upon returning to the United States, Williams was hired by Bell Helicopter Textron as a test pilot, demonstration pilot, and international delivery pilot. During this period, he traveled to virtually every corner of the earth to promote Bell and its products. He next moved to Bell’s Experimental Test Pilot division and rose to become the company’s chief pilot.

Notable achievements in Williams’s time with Bell include conducting first flights in 12 different Bell models. His exemplary flying skills enabled him to become the company’s first aerobatic pilot as well as the demonstration pilot for the 680 rotor system, the first Bell helicopter to utilize loops and rolls as part of the standard flight demonstration. Williams also served as a test pilot for flights on the Bell XV-15 tilt rotor, the forerunner of the US Marines’ V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft.

Williams retired from Bell in 2005, but he wasn’t finished with helicopter flight leadership and training. In 2006, he accepted the chief pilot’s position at MD Helicopters, Inc. in Arizona, where, through 2012, he directed the production and delivery of helicopters as well as pilot training.

Most recently, Williams accepted a position as chief pilot with Aero Dynamix in the company’s night-vision goggles (NVG) program. Currently, he serves as the company’s certification pilot and the chief NVG instructor.

Williams has flown nearly 16,000 accident-free flight hours over his career, with 3,750 of them as instructor. In 2015, the FAA presented him with its prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, recognizing his 50 years of flight.

The award will be presented at the Salute to Excellence Awards luncheon during HAI HELI-EXPO 2020. HAI HELI-EXPO®, the world’s largest helicopter trade show and exhibition, will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, Jan. 27–30, with the exhibit hall open Jan. 28–30. For more information, visit heliexpo.rotor.org.

HAI is the professional trade association for the international helicopter industry. HAI members represent more than 3,000 aviation businesses and individuals who safely operate more than 4,500 helicopters approximately 2.3 million hours each year in more than 73 nations. HAI is dedicated to the promotion of the helicopter as a safe, effective method of commerce and to the advancement of the international helicopter community.


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Salute to Excellence Luncheon
Wednesday Jan. 29, 2020 | 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Anaheim Convention Center