Rotor & Wing International

A Humbling Path

R&WI’s 50th anniversary commemoration in this issue has been a humbling process

We note in this issue that preparations for R&WI’s 50th anniversary commemoration in this issue has been a humbling process.

A main reason, we say there, is you, our readers. Each R&WI staff member and contributor is awed at trade shows, industry meetings, operators and manufacturers and hears the appreciation and respect you and your colleagues have for this publication. We are struck that such sentiments come from people of your stature: pioneers, visionaries, men and women who excel in leadership and business — and heroes. Not heroes you trust once into danger, but ones who put others above themselves again and again. Gathering material for this commemorative issue made us understand that those experiences are not single events, but part of a 50-year legacy.

There is another main reason for our humility: the mettle of the men and women who have served on R&WI. Perhaps these individuals are epitomized by Jim Kissick, an early technical editor on our staff whose byline appears in the pilot report excerpted by reader request. A retired U.S. Navy commander, Kissick passed away Feb. 24 in Bradenton, Florida, at the age of 92.

After Illinois’ Peoria Journal Star’s owner — a helicopter operator for several years — decided to launch this magazine in 1967, Kissick as his helicopter pilot became his technical editor. That post was by far the highlight of his resume.

A Navy dive bomber crewman during World War II in the Pacific, Kissick earned his commission in 1948 and became a naval aviator, flying all the early jet fighters. He served in Vietnam and later was a military assistance director in South America.

His military honors included the Distinguished Flying Cross. He also received several “Winged S” awards from Sikorsky for lifesaving missions, for his flying qualifications included helicopters. When he retired from the Navy in 1967, he also was qualified to fly dive bombers, jet fighters and airships.

After his time with us, Kissick flew commercially for airship, fixed-wing and helicopter operators in Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas. (He later became a city councilman in Bradenton.)

Kissick is not unique on the R&WI roster. We have always benefited greatly from the contributions of time and expertise of rotary-wing pilots, crewmembers and business executives of great accomplishment. Amid the press of publication and events deadline, we can overlook this. Fortunately, we have ample opportunity in the course of our work to reflect on the legacy of past contributors like Kissick (and, for the engineering crowd, the inestimable Ray Prouty) and be reminded that their current counterparts — among them Lee Benson, Steve Colby and Mike Hangge — rightfully stand shoulder to shoulder with them. (I risk, by not naming all, the numerous others who are their peers.)

As we have learned in recent months, I and my fellow staff members work among giants and stand on their shoulders. RWI