1974 On spec

Larry Camphaug’s purchase of ten Hughes 500C turbine helicopters in early 1974 was a tremendous risk. If there were no contracts for the equipment, one of the pickle jars would be empty, and he certainly knew which pickle jar that would be. Reference the pickle-jar theory of accounting here.

I knocked around Northwestern Ontario doing odd jobs in a variety of equipment prior to picking up one of the new 500s in Thunder Bay–C-GODW–in its snappy yellow and black paint scheme. Larry had chosen registrations for five of these to mirror the C-F registrations of Ontario’s Otter fleet. Along with that familiar black and yellow paint, what wasn’t to like about these new turbine helicopters? Certainly the Ministry of Natural Resources could at least take a look while it was sitting on their tarmac.

Looking didn’t cost anything.

Viking Helicopters was attempting to encourage Ontario’s MNR to do some charter work, hoping for a month or two of minimums during 1974’s beginning fire season. In mid-June I ferried GODW around to several of the forestry bases in northwestern Ontario to let them have a look and to evaluate the load capacity and the numbers. Of course, should the call come in, we would be sitting on their tarmac, only a load away from servicing the next fire.

Pickings were pretty slim. The fire hazard was low. The Ministry wasn’t interested in doing any chartering when the risk was non-existent. I think they were a bit reluctant at the time to hire a helicopter on skids, but that would soon change. I did a bit of flying out of Dryden for them, but nothing too extravagant. In fact, I remember thinking they were throwing us a bone just to keep us happy and quiet.

Then, a couple of weeks later, everything went to hell in a handbasket.

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