Alexandria, Virginia – Helicopter Association International (HAI) is pleased to announce Scott Tinnesand as the recipient of the Salute to Excellence W.A. “Dub” Blessing Flight Instructor of the Year Award. This award, presented by H. Ross Perot & Family, recognizes superlative contributions by a helicopter or UAS flight instructor in upholding high standards of professionalism. It will be presented Monday, March 7, at HAI HELI-EXPO 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
Flight instructor and experimental test pilot Scott Tinnesand got to where he is today thanks to mentors who supported him along his journey. A pilot with 33 accident-free years of flying experience, he is dedicated to giving back whenever possible.
Tinnesand remembers wanting to be a pilot but questioning the feasibility of achieving his dream. When he discovered the US Army ROTC program at the University of North Dakota (UND), the dream became possible. He enrolled at UND with the ROTC program, earning his private, commercial, and instrument helicopter ratings. Upon graduation, he attended Army flight school to become an AH-1 Cobra and AH-64 Apache pilot.
After eight years of service, ending with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, he entered the civilian world as an instructor pilot and test pilot for the gyroplane manufacturer Groen Brothers Aviation. Tinnesand thrived at Groen, gaining gyroplane commercial and instructor ratings. He was mentored by coworker and fellow pilot Terry Brandt. Not only did Tinnesand have the opportunity at Groen to teach customers to fly, but he was also able to mentor them in their careers.
After leaving Groen, Tinnesand took a helicopter EMS position that grew into an opportunity to earn his helicopter CFI and to mentor, train, and support his fellow company pilots. Then, in 2011, he landed what has been his dream job.
Today, Tinnesand is a lead flight instructor and experimental test pilot for The Boeing Co.’s Vertical Lift division. He trains domestic and international pilots as well as conducting experimental test flights in the AH-64E Apache, A/MH-6M, and AH-6 Little Bird.
His experience at Boeing would not be the same without his own mentor in the organization, Rich Lee, chief developmental test pilot for rotorcraft. Lee took Tinnesand under his wing and supported all his endeavors. He also encouraged Tinnesand to become a designated pilot examiner (DPE) in the region. All he asked in return was that Tinnesand pay it forward.
When not working, Tinnesand is mentoring. He spends extra time after practical test examinations to teach and guide pilots. He encourages female pilots to apply for Whirly-Girls scholarships and has conducted free SFAR 73 checkouts for new CFIs to help them save money as they begin their careers. He shares his contact information with pilots and responds to numerous phone calls and texts every week from prior students, airmen applicants, flight instructors, and professional pilots requesting assistance.
Tinnesand also donates his time to the Arizona DPE Advisory Group and the Phoenix Airspace User’s Work Group and has participated as a speaker in HAI’s HFI Pilot Mentoring Panel, HAI’s Military-to-Civilian Transition Workshop, the US Helicopter Safety Team Annual Meeting, and several other local and national training and safety seminars.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the great people who supported and mentored me every step of the way,” Tinnesand shares. “There truly isn’t anything more satisfying than helping remove an obstacle keeping someone from achieving their dream. I am so lucky to have the life I live. It gives me such satisfaction to help others reach their dreams.”
The W.A. “Dub” Blessing Flight Instructor of the Year Award will be presented during HAI HELI-EXPO 2022. HAI HELI-EXPO®, the world’s largest helicopter trade show and exhibition, will be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, March 7–10, with the exhibit hall open March 8–10. For more information on HAI HELI-EXPO 2022, visit heliexpo.com.
HAI is the professional trade association for the international helicopter industry and represents more than 1,100 companies and over 16,000 industry professionals in more than 65 countries. Each year, HAI members safely operate more than 3,700 helicopters and remotely piloted aircraft approximately 2.9 million hours. 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.