Russian Helicopters has begun marketing the Ka-32A11BC coaxial helicopter for more U.S. firefighting work. The helicopter has been used successfully in Chile and Mexico in this role, and one based in Canada was summoned last year to help battle a blaze in Idaho.
The threatened pink workstations are a nonstarter, but Nancy Lematta has her hands firmly on the controls of Aurora, Ore.-based Columbia Helicopters. Her late husband, Wes, who founded the company with his brothers, charted a course that she plans to follow.
The Canadian Air & Space Museum of Toronto has launched a fundraising drive to acquire a Sikorsky S-58T with almost half a century of service in the U.S. and Canada under its rotors. The museum has set an initial fundraising goal of $35,000 to acquire the helicopter and all associated spare parts and finance its transport to the museum.
Helitech will once again be staged at Airport Cascais, Estoril, Portugal, on October 5 to 7 after the success of its inaugural event in Portugal in 2008. Organizer Reed Exhibitions said this year’s event is going to be bigger, with more than 50 percent of the exhibition space already sold.
Glenn “Wes” Lematta, 83, the founder of Columbia Helicopters, died December 24. Lematta and his brothers started Columbia in 1957 with a single used Hiller UH-12B in which they offered rides at county fairs. The company grew into a global heavy-lift helicopter operator that today employs 600 and operates a fleet of 30 Vertol 107 II and Boeing 234 Chinook tandem-rotor helicopters.
The investigation into last year’s fatal crash of a 1965 Carson Helicopter Sikorsky S-61N is beginning to take on the tenor of a high-stakes suspense novel.
Northern Wisconsin forests are experiencing their worst drought in 70 years. The area’s abundant freshwater lakes have receded to record low levels and, although the spring had been unseasonably cold, by the end of May fire danger was high. More than 946 wild fires had consumed over 2,600 acres throughout the state and fire danger in the vast 1.5 million acre Cheqaumegon-Nicolet National Forest was so severe that the U.S.
Oregon’s legislature voted to honor Columbia Helicopters founder and chairman Wes Lematta by renaming Aurora Airport Wes Lematta Field at the Aurora State Airport.
The EAA announced that Elvis, one of 17 S-64 Aircranes operated and owned by Erickson, will be on display at its annual convention in Wisconsin this month and would likely fly demonstration slurry drops from its massive 2,650-gallon tank. The Oregon company builds, sells and operates S-64s in a variety of firefighting, construction and logging applications.
Columbia Helicopters has dispatched one of its Boeing 234 Chinook tandem-rotor helicopters to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to assist with wildfire suppression. The helicopter is based in Cancun on a 30-day contract in partnership with Vertical Aviation of San Antonio and Scala Helicopters in Mexico City. It is Columbia’s first firefighting assignment in Mexico.