Published date: 11 August 2022

At the Aviation New Zealand conference in Wellington on 09 August, Louisa ‘Choppy’ Patterson was awarded the Civil Aviation Authority’s Director’s Commendation Award in recognition of her distinguished service and ongoing commitment to safety in the New Zealand aviation community.

CAA Director Keith Manch says Louisa is a true pioneer of our nation’s aviation tourism industry and her achievements in the sector extend over decades.

“Louisa epitomises the innovation, collaboration and professional values the aviation sector is built on. I am proud to be able to acknowledge the impact she has had on the industry, and recognise her for the leadership she has shown especially in the face of personal adversity and more recently the pandemic which had a profound impact on aviation,” says Mr Manch.

Louisa is well known for being a trailblazer in New Zealand aviation. Since 2016 her team have been developing the Eye In The Sky, which is one of the most affordable certified flight data recorder on the market today. It was awarded an Approved Model List (AML) and Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) by the NZ CAA in December 2020, the first AML STC ever produced in New Zealand and is certified for a range of helicopters with more types being added continuously. From humble beginnings, there have now been hundreds of Eye In The Sky systems proudly manufactured right here in New Zealand. These systems are in use not only here in NZ but also in the USA, Australia, and Canada.

When the pandemic hit in 2020 Louisa used her lifetime of connections to form the General Aviation Tourism group. As the main driver of the GAT, Louisa brought dozens of operators together and lobbied the Government for vital assistance to the industry. Her tireless work during and after the nationwide lockdown of early 2020 resulted in GAT succeeding in securing funding for many aviation tourism businesses via the grants and loans of the Governments Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Plan. Without this funding many of these businesses would have been forced to hibernate or to close the doors completely.

Louisa’s business Over The Top Helicopters has been the proud recipient of the Helicopter Association International Safety Award every year since joining in 1999 to the present. Louisa personally holds the HAI safety award for more than 10,000 accident-free flight hours and was the first rotary pilot to receive the NZAIA Platinum safety award for more than 25 years without serious incident and now holds the Diamond award for 30 years of safe flying.

“Louisa is thoroughly deserving of this award and we hope she is proud of her achievements and knows she is an inspiration to many in the industry,” says Mr Manch.


Louisa Patterson receives Director's Commendation Award from Keith Manch.