Riverside, California – February 2016, helicopter pilot and industry legend Pete Gillies formerly announced his retirement from Western Helicopters, a division of Welk Aviation. Gillies, who was the chief pilot at Western Helicopters, was hired in 1972 flying a Bell 47G-3B-1 and oversaw the set up and operation for Western Helicopters in San Diego. With over 18,000+ hours of flying, Gillies is a noted expert in long line/vertical reference operations, mountain flying and famous for autorotation instruction. He is a regular contributor to helicopter industry publications and is often called upon as a speaker for events. Helicopter Association International recognized him in 1996 as Instructor of the Year.

Gillies started flying airplanes in the 1950s while still attending college. His first demonstration flight in a helicopter came in 1966. When asked why he decided to fly helicopters, Gillies responded by simply saying “Because I couldn’t fly one!” In 1967 Pete started his commercial career flying Hughes 269Bs’ for Sea World in San Diego, CA.

“Pete’s commitment to Western Helicopters has been unwavering. His wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry is expansive and priceless. After 26 years of flying, I still learn something new from Pete every time I speak with him”, says Lawrence Welk III, President and CEO. “He is one of a kind, full of valuable wisdom and insight that will continue to be passed on to future generations of pilots. I sincerely appreciate Pete’s contributions and commitment to Western Helicopters and the helicopter industry in general. The new challenge for Pete will be to slow down and enjoy his retirement. We wish him all the best in this next chapter of his life and hope that he will enjoy this well-deserved time with his wife, Pat, and family”.

Welk Aviation was founded in 1998 and is comprised of three unique helicopter divisions: Angel City Air, Summit Helicopter and Western Helicopters. Angel City Air (ACA) is a pioneer in electronic news gathering and aerial production services. Summit Helicopter provides leading power line, construction and heavy lift aerial services. And Western Helicopters offers world-class advanced helicopter pilot training and utility support. For more information visit: www.WelkAviation.com