Twirly Birds name Les Morris award recipient

Social helicopter pilot group, Twirly Birds, has named Jake Hart the 2013 Les Morris Award recipient. Hart’s aviation career has spanned 55 years and more than 15,000 hours in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

After entering the U.S. Air Force in 1955, Hart received his wings in 1957, and then spent 10 years on active duty with a combat tour in Vietnam. Hart has been an experimental test pilot for Bell Helicopter, Vought, Aerospatiale, and American Eurocopter. His many achievements include aircraft certification projects as the primary test pilot for the adaptation of the 20mm Gatling gun on the AH-1, single pilot IFR certification for the SA341 Gazelle and SA360 Dauphin, and many other integral aircraft development programs.

After five years with Bell Helicopter in the 1960s, Hart joined Vought Helicopter Corp. in 1970 and ultimately spent 26 years through three corporate name changes and finally retired from American Eurocopter in 1996 as the director of flight operations to join SFIM, Inc. (now SAGEM Avionics, Inc.). During his tenure with SAGEM, Hart continued his developmental efforts with autopilot certifications on the EC120, EC130, Bell 206, 407, 427, and Erickson S-64.

Hart is past president of the Texas Chapter of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Association and is active in the U.S. Air Force Helicopter Pilots Association. He is an active helicopter pilot and is an FAA DER both as a test pilot with flight analysis authorization.

The Les Morris Award signifies the pioneering spirit of the Twirly Birds and the award is reserved for members that have made an exemplary contribution to the helicopter community over their lifetime. The award is named for Les Morris, an early helicopter pioneer who was instrumental in many developmental phases of the helicopter and experimental test pilot techniques. One of his many achievements includes early work with Igor Sikorsky to bring a single main and tail rotor helicopter from experimental phase to full production.

Twirly Birds is an international organization founded in 1945 by pilots of helicopters and other vertical takeoff aircraft. The sole purpose of this nonprofit organization is to recognize and foster the fellowship of those brought together by the common bond of vertical flight and to facilitate the cordial exchange of experience and opinions as the helicopter and other vertical take-off aircraft art progresses.

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