Flight Safety Coordinator, Gary Stevens retired from the Illinois Department of Transportation – Division of Aeronautics on December 31, 2010 after serving 24 years in the Division’s Bureau of Aviation Safety. Stevens was responsible for the certification and inspection of aeronautical facilities in northern Illinois and the state-wide system of 140 hospital heliports. He also was a speaker at numerous safety seminars throughout the state.
Stevens and IDOT- Division of Aeronautics were recognized in 2004 by the National Association of State Aviation Officials, (NASAO) receiving the Most Innovative State Program Award for a heliport safety video and hospital heliport directory produced by the state. Gary served on the Helicopter Association International, (HAI) heliport committee where he was the principal contributor on the hospital heliport chapter of the FAA Advisory Circular on Heliport Design and served as a presenter for the HAI Georgia Tech heliport planning course.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Stevens soloed in 1966 in a J-3 Cub and went on to earn a multi-engine ATP, Certified Flight Instructor certificate and a helicopter rating. He served as a technical advisor to the American
Association of Air Medical Services on heliport issues, and served as a liaison and was a member of the Chicago Flight Instructors Association, the Midwest Helicopter Association, the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame and the EAA.
He instructed and soloed many cadets at the Illinois Wing of the Civil Air Patrol summer encampment for many years. Stevens presented numerous forums at EAA Oshkosh on developing grass strips and helped many years with the NASAO tent at Oshkosh and assisted NASAO on many issues relating to heliports and helicopter EMS.
One of Gary’s proudest accomplishments was the productive relationship formed with the Illinois Association of Air and Critical Care Transport (IAACCT) and IDOT. This working relationship with the state-wide group of helicopter EMS operators became much stronger when the state of Illinois got out of the helicopter EMS service after a 30 years of accident free operation. The IAACCT partnership along with the cooperation of the Illinois Department of Public Health made many hospital heliport safety improvements possible, including nearly a 100% compliance rate with safety standards at Illinois hospital heliports.
The heliport safety video produced by IDOT in cooperation with IAACCT member programs and their helicopters is being used today by hospitals and helicopter EMS operators throughout the United States and the world.
Gary and his wife Shirley are retiring to Bradenton, Florida where Gary intends to bike, kayak and remain active in aviation through volunteer efforts and consulting on hospital and other heliport projects. (Pictured with Stevens is Barry Cooper, left, FAA Regional Administrator.)