Read More: Last Hover: James O. Wisecup
August 14, 2020

Retired Air Methods Pilot, 2018–19 HAI Board Chair

Former HAI Board Chairman and retired Air Methods Corp. (AMC) Assistant Chief Pilot James O. Wisecup, 71, died Jul. 30, 2020. Wisecup, a 16,000-hour dual-rated pilot, retired from his post with AMC, a helicopter air ambulance (HAA) operator, in July 2019. In June of this year, he was awarded the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in recognition of his 50 years of professional, safe flight.

Growing up in the Houston, Texas, area, Jim knew as a teenager that he wanted to fly for a living, so he joined the US Army when it was recruiting high-school grads to fill helicopter pilot positions in Vietnam. During his year in-country, Wisecup flew for the MACV-SOG unit on special ops missions. Characteristically, he turned his year of living dangerously into a funny story, remarking that he had had three engine failures caused by FOD (foreign object damage). The first was caused by a mortar round, the second by an artillery shell, and the third by a rocket-propelled grenade. He earned a Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and multiple air medals.

Wisecup was discharged in April 1971 and used his GI benefits to get his fixed-wing ratings, but his real goal was to get a job in the helicopter industry. He started as a line pilot in 1974, flying for Offshore Helicopters in Texas and five years later was chief pilot for Bristow Helicopters US operations. After a stint at Arctic Air, Wisecup moved to the HAA sector in 1987, working for Rocky Mountain Helicopters and, after 2002, AMC. In a 2018 interview with ROTOR, he explained his long tenure in air ambulance this way: “It felt like the right place to make a difference—helping pilots to be better pilots, our managers to be better managers, and my check airmen to be better check airmen. Because if we can help each other, it’s a whole lot easier.”

Throughout his career, Wisecup shared his knowledge and experience with the rotorcraft community. He was an active HAI volunteer, serving on various committees, and served as chair of the HAI Board of Directors from 2018–19. His last term on the board ended on Jun. 30, 2020.

Wisecup was also active in the SUU College of Aerospace Sciences and Technology. There, he served as chairman of the Aviation Advisory Board, advanced flight instructor, and FAA designated pilot examiner, while mentoring hundreds of pilots.  

Read More: Last Hover
June 08, 2020

Matthew Zuccaro

Past HAI President and CEO

Former HAI President and CEO Matthew Zuccaro died Feb. 25, 2020, at age 70, just weeks after retiring from the association.

“Matt was one of a kind in our industry,” says current HAI President and CEO James A. Viola. “Throughout his career, he made safe helicopter operations his priority, and we are a better, stronger, safer industry today because of his efforts on behalf of rotorcraft.”

An HAI member since the early 1980s, Matt was elected to HAI’s Board of Directors in 1987 and served as chairman in 1991. He became president of HAI in 2005 and retired in January 2020. During HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim that month, Matt was honored with the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, recognizing his 50 years of professionalism and skill as a pilot.

During Matt’s time leading HAI, the association was a forceful advocate for its members on regulatory and legislative issues. When topics such as veterans’ flight-training benefits, air traffic control privatization, user fees, and the safe integration of drones into the airspace were debated, Matt and his team were there—often as the only ones representing the helicopter industry.

Among his many accomplishments, Matt may be best remembered for a 2013 ROTOR column encouraging pilots to “land the damn helicopter” in situations in which, by proceeding, they would endanger themselves and their passengers. From that column, HAI’s Land & LIVE program was born, saving countless lives around the world—a fitting legacy for a man who was passionate about safety in the industry he loved so much.

For more information on Matt’s life and career, please see the Winter 2020 issue of ROTOR.

Read More: Rex Bishopp
February 26, 2019

Alaska Aviation Pioneer

Alaska helicopter pioneer Rex Bishopp, age 96, passed away at his home in Anchorage, Alaska, on November 1, 2018.

Born in Farson, Wyoming, on June 6, 1922, Rex lived on the family ranch until moving to California for college. He later worked for a cousin, helicopter pioneer Jim Ricklefs, who owned and operated Rick Helicopters of San Francisco. Every summer, Rex and Ricklefs would drive to Alaska with a truck carrying two helicopters for the summer flying season.

Rex moved to Alaska in 1967, when he and his wife, Ruth, purchased Alaska Helicopters from Ricklefs. The two had many exciting adventures as they ran the company as a team. In 1978, they merged Alaska Helicopters with Columbia Helicopters of Portland, Oregon, and sold the company when they retired in 1995.

Throughout his career, Rex actively promoted safety within the aviation industry. He was ­instrumental in creating the Alaska Air Carriers Association and served on its board for more than a decade. Rex received numerous honors for his leadership in aviation safety. He was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame in 2013.

Rex was preceded in death by his beloved wife and partner, Ruth, in 1995. He is survived by his children, Laurie, Renee, Lynn, and Clint, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In Rex’s memory, the family suggests donations to the Alaska Aviation Museum or the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation.

Read More: Loran "Pat" Patterson
February 26, 2019

Past HAI Chairman and 25,000-Hour Pilot

Loran “Pat” Edward Patterson, longtime HAI member and past chairman, died at his home in Lucerne Valley, California, on December 4, 2018.

Pat was born on September 24, 1933, in Rome, Georgia. At age 16, he enlisted in the US Army, where he received many commendations for bravery, leadership, and acts of heroism during the Korean War.

Upon returning to the United States in 1955, he was accepted into the army’s helicopter pilot school. He earned his wings, was nicknamed “Pat the Pilot,” and discovered a passion for flying that launched his future career.

In 1968, Pat became one of the first helicopter pilots hired by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. During his time there, he completed search-and-rescue assignments, emergency response calls, and firefighting flights, among other missions.

Pat’s flying career spanned more than four decades, with more than 25,000 logged flight hours. During that period, he also worked for Vought Helicopters, Air Logistics, and Rocky Mountain Helicopters before starting his own company, Continental Helicopters. He was serving as chairman of the board of Helicopter Association of America when the organization became HAI in 1981.

Pat retired as general manager of Heavy Lift Helicopters in Apple Valley, California, in 2007. He is survived by his son, Scott; daughter, Alita Patterson Irigoyen; son-in-law, Ramon Irigoyen; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Read More: Dr. Carrol Max Voss Flies West
August 07, 2018

Dr. Carrol Voss, the founder of AGROTORS, Inc., and a pioneer in the use of helicopters in aerial application, died June 10 at his home in Maine at the age of 98. Voss joined the Navy Air Corps during World War II, serving as a flight instructor for PBY and PBM “flying boats.” He met his wife, Wilma “Jo,” who was also in the Navy at the time, and they married in 1945.

Voss continued his education and interests in entomology and aviation following the war, earning a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin. In the late 1940s, Voss received his helicopter pilot’s license and started working in the industry. After nearly a decade of working with helicopters and agriculture, he started his own company, AGROTORS, Inc., in 1958. The company became a leader in aerial application operations, later opening a flight school in the mid-1960s.

Voss served as a consultant with the World Health Organization, helping to establish aerial application programs for insect infestations in Africa. He was also a consultant for agricultural spraying in India, the USSR, and South America.

Voss began working with HAI in 1953 when it was still Helicopter Association of America. He was active in the Agriculture Committee and helped to produce a safety video about flying in the wire and obstruction environment. His son, Tim, who was also active in HAI, took over AGROTORS when the elder Voss retired in 1985.

Voss was the recipient of the Twirly Birds Les Morris Award (1995) and HAI’s Lawrence Bell Lifetime Achievement Award (2001). AGROTORS also received HAI’s Sikorsky Humanitarian Service Award (2000) for assisting with mosquito eradication in New York.