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Mon, Jan. 18

Grand Canyon National Park pilot recognized as 2020 NPS Aviator of the Year

Galen Howell was selected as the 2020 NPS Aviator of the Year. Howell serves as the only fixed wing pilot for Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo/Williams-Grand Canyon News)

Galen Howell was selected as the 2020 NPS Aviator of the Year. Howell serves as the only fixed wing pilot for Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo/Williams-Grand Canyon News)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Galen Howell, fixed wing pilot at Grand Canyon National Park, has been selected as the 2020 National Park Service (NPS) Aviator of the Year.

This award recognizes an individual who has performed mission(s) of significant consequence and valor or has actively promoted the advancement or recognition of an NPS aviation program, mission or service. This award is given to one individual, once a year.

“Galen is a true asset to the entire NPS aviation program. His aviation knowledge, aviation skills, and dedication to the program is exceptional, and the NPS National Aviation Office is excited to have the opportunity to acknowledge his contributions,” said NPS National Aviation Manager, John Buehler.

Howell has served the NPS for 12 years as an FAA certified flight instructor and Department of the Interior (DOI) mentor pilot for the NPS Developmental Pilot Program.

He is an experienced and trusted pilot who provides basic and advanced flight operations training for new and experienced pilots. His skills and judgement have been called upon by the NPS National Fleet Aircraft and Pilot Specialist to determine a pilot’s ability to fly in the challenging environments found in the national parks.

Howell’s experience has earned him two in-flight action awards for safely and successfully dealing with in-flight emergencies.

In addition to providing critical mentoring and training to NPS pilot and pilot-candidates, Howell teaches and provides mentoring to non-pilots under the DOI Pinch-Hitter course.

Howell also proactively trains to fly air-attack missions for wildland fire operations and annually supports interagency training for the Arizona National Guard, providing a realistic simulation for both Blackhawk helicopter pilots and ground crews.

“Howell’s continuous promotion and advancement of the NPS aviation program is above and beyond the standard pilot position and is a tremendous benefit to the NPS,” Buehler said.

Information provided by Grand Canyon National Park

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