Heli-Expo Starts Saturday

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The trade show season revs up next weekend in Houston with Heli-Expo 2010 put on by Helicopter Association International (HAI). Thousands of delegates and hundreds of exhibitors will fill the George R. Brown Convention Center for the event, which runs from Feb. 20 to Feb. 23. Exhibits and business meetings will go from Sunday to Tuesday. Most major helicopter companies and makers of related gear will be in attendance and the exhibit floor looks mostly booked. There are dozens of seminars and educational forums scheduled and the event wraps up with HAI's annual Salute To Excellence Awards dinner.

This year's Pilot of the Year honor goes to Earl S. Palmer, chief pilot of Hillcrest Aircraft Company in Lewiston, Idaho. The company provides firefighting, construction, power line and other services in the challenging mountainous terrain of the area. Palmer has 13,000 hours in helicopters, including time in Vietnam where he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for participation in a night re-supply mission at Bien Phoa under heavy enemy fire. A total of ten awards will be handed out.