HAI Announces 2023 ROTOR Magazine Photo Contest Winners

Helicopter Association International (HAI) announces the winners of the 2023 ROTOR Magazine Photo Contest. The popular contest attracts hundreds of entries annually from photographers around the world.

This year’s grand prize went to Dianne Bond of Pensacola, FL, USA, who says that, as a photographer, she sees the world a little differently than others. “When I capture an image the way I see it in my mind, I get to share a little piece of my vision with the world.” Her winning image features an Air Center Helicopters' Airbus H225 Super Puma working under contract to the U.S. Air Force. With the helicopter hovering just above the ocean, Bond captures the moment when an Air Force pararescueman, or “PJ,” leaps into the rotorwash-whipped water.

“Seventeen years ago, by chance, I entered the field of helicopter photography,” says Bond. “I strive for every photograph I take to be a beautiful piece of art, worthy of telling the stories of the incredible, selfless people that save lives and perform unfathomable missions using these incredible machines.”

“Our judges selected this image for the grand prize for its captivating drama, composition and technique,” says Gina Kvitkovich, director of publications and media for HAI. “Our judges spend quite a bit of time discussing each photo that makes it to the final round. They noted the different elements that Dianne skillfully brought together to create this striking image. We offer our sincere congratulations to Dianne.”

Photographers submitted entries in five categories, each focusing on an aspect of vertical aviation. For the first time, one helicopter operator appears in two of the winning photographs. In addition to the aircraft in the grand prize image, Air Center Helicopters currently has eight H225 Super Pumas conducting vertical replenishment missions on U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships. One of those aircraft was captured by Gabe Yancey of Burleson, TX, USA, as it returns to an MSC ship with the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz steaming in the background. Yancey, a retired U.S. Navy pilot who has stayed active in aviation as the director of U.S. Navy Programs for Air Center Helicopters, took first place in the Helicopters/Drones at Work category.

For the second year in a row, and just the second time in the history of the contest, entries from one photographer were selected as the top image in two categories. Sean Slebrich of Pittsburgh, PA, received first-place awards in both the Helicopter/Drone Digitally Enhanced Photos and the Wrench Turners categories.

The complete list of winning photographers in the 2023 ROTOR Magazine Photo Contest includes:

  • Grand Prize Winner: Dianne Bond, Pensacola, FL, USA
  • Helicopter/Drones at Work: Gabe Yancey, Burleson, TX, USA
  • Helicopter/Drones in the Military: Brandon Roberson, Vacaville, CA, USA
  • People and Their Helicopter/Drones: Eric Canning, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Helicopter/Drone Digitally Enhanced Photos: Sean Slebrich, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • Wrench Turners: Sean Slebrich, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

“Our industry attracts those who are passionate about the aircraft we fly and the unique missions they can accomplish with those aircraft,” says Kvitkovich. “Clearly, that passion extends to all the photographers who participated in this year’s contest, and I thank them for sharing their images with us.”

Bond received $500 for her winning entry, and each category winner received $100. The winning entries will be displayed at HAI HELI-EXPO 2023 in Atlanta, GA, in March and will also be featured in the March 2023 issue of ROTOR Magazine.

To see the winning entries, visit photo.rotor.org.

Membership in HAI is not required for entry, and HAI does not charge an entry fee. Submissions for the next contest opens Aug. 1.