Columbia Helicopters

January 29, 2010 - 7:03am

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.

July 1, 2009 - 5:30am

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.

June 3, 2009 - 7:52am

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.

July 8, 2008 - 8:53am

Summer means fire season, and Columbia Helicopters’ tandem-rotor Chinooks and Vertols have already been dispatched to their bases, primarily throughout the Western U.S., under contracts with the U.S. Forest Service.

May 12, 2008 - 9:41am

A Boeing Vertol BV-107 operated by Columbia Helicopters of Portland, Ore., crashed in August during a maintenance check flight in southern Montana, killing all three men aboard. Dead are pilot Rich Hernandez, 37; copilot Santi Arovitx, 28; and crew chief Kip Krigbaum, 45. The big twin-rotor helo, a civil derivative of the military’s CH-46, went down for as yet unexplained reasons about 9:30 a.m.

December 6, 2007 - 5:48am

Columbia Helicopters will send a second Boeing Vertol 234 Chinook to Papua New Guinea, to work on heli-rig contracts with local exploration company Oil Search.

Both aircraft will be used to lift components of oil and gas drilling rigs and ancillary equipment above areas of dense jungle to remote drilling locations that are inaccessible by road.

November 26, 2007 - 11:14am

A Boeing Vertol BV-107 operated by Columbia Helicopters of Portland, Ore., crashed in August during a maintenance check flight in southern Montana, killing all three men aboard. Dead are pilot Rich Hernandez, 37; copilot Santi Arovitx, 28; and crew chief Kip Krigbaum, 45. The big twin-rotor helo, a civil derivative of the military’s CH-46, went down for as yet unexplained reasons about 9:30 a.m.

March 14, 2007 - 10:49am

Columbia Helicopters is celebrating two anniversaries and is honoring four employees here at Heli-Expo’07.

October 30, 2006 - 11:37am

Columbia Helicopters is to acquire the type certificates for the Vertol 107-II and Boeing Vertol 234 Chinook helicopters from Boeing. Columbia, the only commercial operator of the heavy-lift types in the world, uses the Boeing models for logging, construction, firefighting and petroleum exploration operations. The official transfer will take place after engineering details are completed and following FAA approval.

September 29, 2006 - 5:53am

    Aviation Maintenance Technical Award

Robert Jones of Air Logistics in Fairbanks, Alaska, has contributed to the helicopter industry for four decades by performing exemplary work behind the scenes, regardless of the environment. He has served on the North Slope of Alaska, on tuna boats in the Pacific, in the jungles of Indonesia and in the Australian desert.

 
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