Former HAI Vice-Chairman Elvin (Al) Meyer passed away

Former HAI Vice-Chairman Elvin (Al) Meyer passed away

13-Feb-2017 Source: Helicopter Association International

Elvin (Al) Meyer, a vice-chairman of HAI’s board of directors until 2002, passed away January 8, 2017 at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California. Al was born in Bakersfield, California on September 23, 1941.

Meyer was senior vice president, manager of ERA Aviation at the time of his retirement in 2004. He served in the U.S. Air Force and was honorably discharged in 1965.

He began his career in aviation crop-dusting out of Shafter, CA and in June 1969 worked as a bush pilot in Alaska for Anchorage Helicopter Services (part of Utility Helicopters). He left the United States about a year later and worked for National Utility Helicopters (NUH)  in Singapore and Indonesia with the beginning of oil exploration in the region.

They started with two Bell 47G4A helicopters doing seismic activities for HUFFCO in East Kalimantan and also provided heli-rigs with Bell 205A-1 helicopters to support for their operations, a first of its kind in Indonesia. In the 1972, NUH was the first to equip the Bell 205A-1 helicopter with floats in support of Union Oil offshore activities north of Badak. Then, between 1972 and 1988, NUH provided heli-rig and seismic services to Petromer Trend for their onshore oil activities in Sorong, Irian Jaya. This was a hallmark contract, which saw NUH helicopters averaging over 300 flight hours monthly per aircraft, or 10 flight hours daily, one of the highest utilization rates anywhere in the world.

Meyer lived on the Nola D, a boat made for the movie Sand Pebbles starring Steve McQueen. He then assisted building heli-rigs by helicopter to drill gas wells in Borneo for Huffington Oil. In 1973, he went to Burma and worked for the Burmese Oil Co and flew crew changes for Reading and Bates Exploration offshore to the E. W. Thornton rig, flying a Bell 205, for a year. From Burma he worked in Songkok, Thailand, for an offshore job for Chevron flying a S58T. Back to U.S., Meyer arrived in Alaska in 1974, flying in Perryville in the Aleutians (Pacific side) setting big Indian Rigs and moving seismic drilling rigs with S58T.

He then accepted a job in New Zealand, where he met his future wife, Judith and they were married in 1975. They took off for the Caribbean where Marathon Oil was wildcatting a well off the coast of St Maarten, flying a S58T from Long Beach, California to St Maarten and Judy came along for the ride.

Early in 1978 they returned from the Caribbean and Al went to work for the U.S. Government Geological Dept, surveying the western states. This survey meant he would fly a grid of 120 miles x 3 miles x 120 miles about 8 to 10 times a day measuring gamma rays. The one area that proved difficult, in that he would suffer from headaches while flying the grid, was Death Valley with its lowest point being -282 ft to its highest point of 11,000 feet.

Following the survey job, Al was sent to Vijayawada, India, east of Hyderabad near the eastern coast of the country, where he flew offshore for the Indian Oil Company flying a S58T. Later in the year, he ferried a S58T helicopter to Port Sudan from Le Havre in France for Chevron and flew out of Sudan until August 1979.

In June 1980, he started working for ERA Helicopters as a line pilot out of Lake Charles, LA. After 6 months with the company, he was promoted to Director of Training and later chief pilot, director of operations (1984-1990), vice-president/manager of the Gulf Coast Division (1991-2004). By this time he had received an ATP, and was the first pilot to have a full ATP in a BO105. He was also the first non-Bell pilot to fly the Bell 412, flying the first one off the line. Al had over 9000 hours in helicopters and over 800 in fixed wing aircraft.

After his retirement in 2004, Al and Judy spent 10 years traveling the United States and Canada in their motorhome, as well as visiting his daughters in Australia.

Al is sadly missed by his loving family, including his wife, three daughters, Natalie Walsh, Juliet Meyer and Emily Meyer, son-in-law, Jie and grandchildren, Jack and Amelia Walsh.

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