News Release

Grand Canyon National Park Pilot Galen Howell Recognized as 2020 NPS Aviator of the Year

Galen Howell is seen standing next to a red and white fixed wing aircraft
Howell in front of a fixed wing aircraft

Williams-Grand Canyon News

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News Release Date: December 17, 2020

Contact: Joelle Baird, 928-638-7609

Grand Canyon, AZ – 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.  

NPS National Aviation Manager, John Buehler, states, “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.” 

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. Howell 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 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. 

Buehler states, “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.”

Last updated: January 4, 2021

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