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LifeFlight’s Dan Tyler awarded for 50 years of incident-free flying

written by Paul Sadler | December 15, 2016

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has presented LifeFlight’s Dan Tyler its most prestigious accolade.

Tyler is the latest recipient of the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, which acknowledges 50 years of accident and violation-free flying by an individual, their exemplary service, professionalism and devotion to aviation safety.

A native American (and an early “Rotor Torque” columnist in Australian Aviation), Tyler has amassed an impressive collection of military and civilian commendations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart for his service in the Vietnam War, the 1999 Prince Phillip Helicopter Rescue Award for civil flying achievements.

Also, he is one of only two Australian-based pilots to receive the Helicopter Association International Pilot of the Year Award for his involvement in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race rescue in Bass Strait.

“All of those previous awards are kind of for doing ‘something stupid’ and getting away with it,” said Tyler. “Whereas this award is actually for making sure I did things right.”


Tyler began his career in helicopter rescue as pilot for the Surf Life Saving Association’s then Wales Rescue Helicopter Service in 1979. And after completing a Bachelor of Law at Sydney University, he maintained two separate career paths by working as a solicitor and a rescue pilot for almost 15 years.

“It reached the stage when I had to decide whether I was going to be a lawyer with a pilot’s licence or a pilot with a law degree – I decided to be a pilot with a law degree,” said Tyler.

“Because there was such a massive let-down from the intensity of your day-to-day life in Vietnam when you returned home, a lot of people just couldn’t get along without the adrenaline.

“I honestly believe that I was addicted to my own adrenaline and that is probably why I got into the rescue business. I was gradually able to withdraw from that need to become a very conservative pilot.”

With over 11,500 hours in the air, Tyler is now the simulation manager at the Thales LifeFlight Simulation Centre, part of LifeFlight’s training academy at Brisbane Airport. However, he maintains that the cockpit of a helicopter is where he still belongs.

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Comments (18)

  • That Ron guy


    I don’t know the gentleman, but well done & congratulations.

  • Rob Rich


    Dan. What wonderful recognition for all the safe flying, But there is more! You have, in the past, worked tirelessly with many associations as a volunteer, using your legal training to give sound advice to those who were working to better their industry. I know, you helped many like me! Thanks again! Rob.

  • Brendan


    He should write a book about his flying. It would be fascinating reading!

  • Taurean Lea


    All congratulations must go to Dan Tyler for 5 HUGE decades of incident free flying!!!!!!!! One man has never had an incident during his flying career and he is one of the world’s most very highly respected aviatiors in the history of Aviation!!!!!!

    Well done Dan Tyler 😀

  • Phil Cl


    Apart from the obvious ,Dan is a thorough gent with bucket loads of empathy and compassion matching his flying skills

  • Jack McCormick


    Dan and I flew together in Vietnam and I’ve known him for a very long time.
    Congratulations on this fine award for a fine gentleman.

  • Tanya


    So proud of you Dan a fantastic pilot and one of the nicest men I’ve ever known

  • Dr Ken Wishaw


    Well done Dan.
    I had the honour of flying with Dan for some years with both Surf Lifesaving and CareFlight. Never felt safer than when Dan was at the controls.
    We also shared a few dramatic moments, but he was always so far ahead off the game we always came through.
    A fabulous and humble guy!

  • Jennifer Tyler


    Uncle Dan,
    Congratulations!! I’m so proud and honored to read this article about you and your achievements. 50 years in the books is quite a milestone! Hats off to you, sir. I think it’s amazing you’ve had such strong passion towards your career to get you to 50+ years. I know you’ve changed many, many lives in all your years of service. Like everyone else has said, you’re one of the kindest, most compassionate and genuine men I know. I love you and look forward to seeing you soon.
    Congratulations again Uncle.

  • Brian


    And he’s my big brother!

  • Mark Penno


    Dan, of all the pilots I’ve flown with over the years you are without a doubt the one I felt the safest with. You sir are a gentleman and an amazing pilot. Congratulations on this well deserved award! ?

  • david dedrick


    way to go dan….from one of the many guys got rides from him in the jungles of viet nam 1970….the rides were either into or out of trouble…..but he was always there no matter how bad it was …. a medic in charlie company 2/8 1st air cav div..1970 ……CONGRATULATIONS !!!

  • Denny Anderson


    Congratulations Dan – from your high school classmate & lifelong friend – you are an amazing guy & deserve all the praise & respect that you are receiving. Awesome accomplishment Dan!!

  • Chris Lees


    Well done Dan. It was my pleasure to work with you as a paramedic in medivac and rescue out of Westmead in the 90’s, Some good memories there, and couple of hairy one’s actually …

  • Anthony Clark


    Dan was at my side for one of the most intense retrievals and resuscitation of a patient I have ever performed. Couldn’t have asked for a more capable and sincere fellow to be there with to share the emphatic sense of success when we got him to hospital alive and for him to return to the base to thank us all. Congrats Dan. More than well deserved.

  • Becky Tyler Hajny


    Congratulations to you Dan. It has been a long time since I have even heard about any of the family. I was so glad a friend from Polk shared this on Facebook. When I saw the photo I knew exactly who you were. I hope everything is great for you and will continue to be for years to come.

  • Gavan Schneider


    When Dan was with CareFlight (NSW) we flew many missions together. Excellent no nonsense approach and always kept the medical crew (i.e., me and the paramedic) safe. Sometimes the situations were “interesting” but they never got out of control. This award is not a mystery. He earned it and thoroughly deserves it. Congratulations and well done.

  • J Roy Stove


    Well Dan that is appropriate recognition for terrific dedication over five decades. In contrast you and I have only met for a few memorable days at Bradford on Avon and Crudwell in the Cotswold for the wedding of your son and my daughter so it is good to learn more about your life achievements. Very well deserved award.

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