The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) hsd honorrf Helicopter Association International (HAI) President Matt Zuccaro as a 2013 Distinguished Statesman of Aviation— one of five so named. The NAA established the award — which was presented on Tuesday, November 12 — in 1954 to “honor outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made contributions of significant value to aeronautics and have reflected credit upon America and themselves.”
In its recognition, NAA noted that Zuccaro has served as President of the Helicopter Association International (HAI) since 2005 and under his leadership, HAI has become one of the fastest-growing and influential aerospace organizations in the world, as well as the leading advocate for the rotorcraft industry. A relentless advocate of safety, he has established a vision for the rotorcraft industry of 100 percent accident-free operations and he strives daily to achieve it.
“I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award from such a great organization as NAA,” Zuccaro says. “The experiences and friendships that I have developed while in the helicopter industry these many years have provided my family and me with an unbelievable adventure and I would not change a thing. I will note that any success that has occurred at HAI is truly due to the passion, dedication and member focus by what I believe is the best association staff in the business.”
NAA also noted Zuccaro’s long and varied career in the helicopter industry before taking the reins of HAI. His 45-year career in the helicopter industry has included several field- and executive-level positions with corporate, commercial, airline, and law enforcement helicopter operations in the New York City area. During his tenure with the New York & New Jersey Port Authority, Zuccaro served as Senior Pilot, Operations Supervisor of their New York City Heliports, and Operations Supervisor at Kennedy International Airport. Also while with the Port Authority, he was the pilot for the test landings on the World Trade Center rooftop heliports in New York City — at the time, the highest rooftop heliports in the world.
The Federal Aviation Administration recognized him with a Certificate of Achievement for establishing the first and only interstate IFR helicopter scheduled airline in the U.S. He was also presented with the first minimum equipment list for a single-engine aircraft issued by the FAA.
Zuccaro is a highly-decorated Army helicopter pilot: first serving in Vietnam with the 7th of the 17th Air Cavalry, then as a flight and classroom instructor at the Army flight school at Fort Rucker. For his service in Vietnam he was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars, and 19 Air Medals.
He holds Airline Transport Pilot and Instrument Flight Instructor certificates for both helicopter and fixed wing aircraft, and is the recipient of HAI’s 10,000-hour pilot safety award and the NBAA Pilot Safety Award.
As president of HAI, Zuccaro leads industry efforts to protect the interests of the international helicopter community and the people who fly, build and fix helicopters. Under Zuccaro’s leadership, HAI advocates for commonsense regulations and laws that enhance safety while reducing operational and economic burdens which hamper operators’ ability to conduct their business. Zuccaro is a staunch advocate for enhancing safety throughout all sectors of the industry, serving as the industry co-chair of the International Safety Helicopter Team since its inception in 2006.
The National Aeronautic Association each year awards the two most prestigious aviation awards in the United States — the Collier Trophy and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. It is the U.S. representative to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), keeper of the world’s aviation records. Also receiving Distinguished Statesman of Aviation Awards for 2013 were: Janice K. Barden, founder of Aviation Personnel International; Ralph Crosby, former Chairman and CEO of EADS North America; Naval aviator and retired Pratt & Whitney executive Hugh Risseeuw; and Bruce Whitman, president and CEO of Flight Safety International.