For more than 50 years now, Airbus Helicopters Inc. has served and supported U.S. helicopter operators.

Just a small handful of employees have been with Airbus Helicopters Inc. since the very earliest days.

The company recently recognized two such employees — Carolyn Russell and Dave Dunstan —for 50 years of service.

“It’s a remarkable accomplishment and a testament to the quality of our workforce and wide range of expertise,” said Romain Trapp, President of Airbus Helicopters Inc. and Head of the North America region for helicopters. “We are deeply grateful to the employees who have helped build and grow Airbus Helicopters Inc. into the world-class aerospace company that we are today.”


Carolyn Russell  


Russell, who is an Executive Assistant to the Legal Department, applied for a job at then-Vought Helicopters on a whim when a friend told her they were hiring. The friend warned her that the company was a start-up, though, so he did not know how long it would last.

Russell decided to accept the risk and was offered a job the same day as her interview. She was the company’s 49th employee.

Working with “amazing, kind and giving people” has kept her here for 50 years, and reaching this milestone is her biggest professional achievement. But her favorite memory? That would be meeting Clint Eastwood while at work.

Russell said she is grateful she took a risk 50 years ago to join the small start-up.

“It’s like a trip to an amusement park with friends,” Russell said. “One moment you’re on a Ferris wheel, the next moment you’re on the tilt-a-whirl, and before you can turn around you’re in the house of mirrors.  This has been a rip-roaring, fire-crackling, roller coaster of a ride, and I’m awfully glad I bought a ticket.”

In her free time, Russell enjoys baking, which she learned to do at age 7 with her grandmother, and hiking, a hobby she picked up during the pandemic.


Dave Dunstan


Dunstan joined Airbus Helicopters Inc. in October 1970, after serving nine years as a U.S. Air Force helicopter mechanic in Alaska. Upon joining the company, he was sent to France for training before moving to Canada, where he worked for 15 years.

Dunstan recently retired as a Senior Regional Technical Representative, supporting customers on the West Coast. He lives in California.

As a regional technical representative, he became known for writing and sharing his notes, known as “Dunstan Notes,” on troubleshooting helicopter issues. Even though he recently retired, he continues to receive calls and emails asking for advice.

Throughout his tenure, he said his biggest professional achievement was developing a customer service system. Among his most interesting assignments was traveling to a tiny island, Amchitka, in 1971 to support the largest underground nuclear explosion ever conducted by the U.S.

Working with a diverse set of clients, from EMS and law enforcement to private operators, ensured his work was always interesting, even after five decades, he said.

“It was challenging, exciting work,” he said. “We were always learning new things as the industry changed and evolved.”

Founded in North Texas in 1969, Airbus Helicopters has become the leading helicopter manufacturer in the U.S., with a team of more than 750 employees supporting more than 800 customers and a regional helicopter fleet of some 3,100 aircraft.

Airbus Helicopters soars thanks to employees like Carolyn Russell and Dave Dunstan, who embody the Airbus values and whose dedication and expertise over the past 50 years have allowed the company to grow into a leader in the aerospace industry.