HAI past president Matt Zuccaro honored with flyover (VIDEO)

    Matthew Zuccaro, immediate past president of Helicopter Association International (HAI), was laid to rest under VFR conditions on Saturday, Feb. 29, surrounded by a gathering of family members, friends, and helicopter industry representatives.

    The interment took place at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York, and was preceded by several days of viewings and a Catholic Mass in the community near where Matt’s family resides.

    During the well-attended interment ceremony, a flyover of helicopters honored Matt’s 50-year career in the helicopter industry, his advocacy for the industry, and his goal of achieving safe helicopter operations. Jeff Smith, HAI Board member and vice president of operations for the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC), coordinated the flyover, and Eddie Schulze of Fly The Whale served as in-flight mission commander. 

    Local helicopter operators made up the eight-ship flight. The pilots, aircraft flown, and their companies were:

    • Eddie Schulze and ERHC chairman Rich Huggins, Sikorsky S-76, Fly The Whale
    • Sgt. Tyson Mowry and Sgt. Danny Vanco, Leonardo AW139, New Jersey State Police
    • Mike Renz, Airbus AS365, Analar Corp.
    • Declan Kavanagh, Airbus AS355, Analar Corp.
    • Alex Akins, Airbus AS355, Analar Corp.
    • Itai Shoshani, Bell 407, Zip Aviation
    • Jeremy Rondell Conley, Bell 206, FlyNYON
    • James Miller, Bell 206, MTI Travel.

    HAI Sadly Announces the Passing of Matthew Zuccaro

    Helicopter Association International Announces

    the Passing of Matthew Zuccaro


    Alexandria, Va. (Feb. 26, 2020) – Helicopter Association International (HAI) is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Matthew S. Zuccaro, the immediate past president and CEO of the association. Plans for services are still being determined and will be shared as soon as they are available.

    “Matt was one of a kind in our industry,” says current HAI President and CEO James Viola. “Helicopters were part of his life, beginning with his US Army service in Vietnam. Throughout his career, he made safe helicopter operations his priority, and we are a better, stronger, and safer industry today because of his efforts on behalf of rotorcraft. Speaking on behalf of our industry, we have lost a good friend whom will be missed. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Doreen, and his family.”

    An HAI member since the early 1980s, Matt was elected to the HAI Board of Directors in 1987 and served as chairman in 1991. He was named president of HAI in 2005 and retired in January of this year. During HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim in January, Matt was honored with the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, recognizing his 50 years of professionalism and skill as a pilot.

    Among his many accomplishments, Matt may be best remembered for a column he wrote for ROTOR magazine in 2013, encouraging pilots to “land the damn helicopter” in situations where proceeding would endanger themselves and passengers. From that column, HAI’s Land & LIVE program was born, saving countless lives around the world—a fitting legacy for a man who was passionate about safety in the industry he loved so much.

    For more information on Matt’s life and career, please see this article from the Winter 2020 issue of ROTOR.

    Those interested in sharing memories or leaving messages for Matt’s family may do so at