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.
Aurora State Airport
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.
After buying Aurora Jet Center at Aurora State Airport in Oregon, new owner Metal Innovations signed a fuel provider agreement with Western Petroleum, and the FBO became a member of ExxonMobil’s Avitat network. Aurora is a convenient alternative airport for Portland-area traffic, only 22 nm from Portland International Airport and with a 5,000-foot runway. On November 1, Aurora Jet Center will open a new pilot lounge and dayrooms.