John W. Williams’s career as a certificated flight instructor (CFI) spanned more than 35 years, all with Bell Helicopter. Following military service that ended in the 1970s, Williams first joined Bell as a production test pilot. He also worked in the Experimental Flight Test Department before becoming a CFI at the Bell Flight Academy, where he trained countless pilots in 19 countries.
As an instructor, he was known for stressing safety both in the helicopter and on the ground. He later became pilot training safety manager for Bell and was a Part 141 night-vision goggle instructor. Of Williams’s 12,500 flight hours, more than 4,000 hours were earned during flight training. Williams received multiple nominations and letters of recommendation for this award, including one from the namesake of the award, W.A. “Dub” Blessing.
Williams has also led an extraordinary career away from the training department. He participated as a U.S. Precision Helicopter Team pilot (Bell Crew) in the World Helicopter Championships in the U.S.S.R. in 1978, and again in 1981 in Poland, where the team won the gold medal for the first time. He currently holds five international helicopter speed records, including the Around the World (westbound) record with Ron Bower. He is a lifetime member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and was president of the Helicopter Club of America.