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Information found – missing helicopter 1971

In the early ’70s a Hughes 500 went missing in Northern Quebec. I believe it might have been operating on a Baie James project. I do remember the incident but my memory fails me. As I recall, the 500 was eventually located, machine intact and engine inlet and outlet covers installed. Fuel was added and the helicopter was flown away. Pilot and passenger were never located.

I received a request from a reader for more information. Thanks to a note from a former Viking Helicopters employee, I have some additional information:

I remember this incident but it was a long time ago, approx 1972 [perhaps 1971, ed.] or 45 years ago. It was a Skyrotors helicopter working out of a camp between Shefferville PQ and Caniapiscau. The helicopter, a Hughes 500, was in Shefferville picking up a food order for the camp.

While he was in Shefferville the pilot met up with a radio tech from Skyrotors to get some work done The pilot was on contract and I did not know him. The pilot, the tech and the food left for camp in marginal VFR due to flurries and that was the last time we heard from them. The helicopter was spotted a year later by a passing fixed wing pilot and reported to air services that a helicopter was sighted with covers on but no sign of life.

A search of lost a/c in the area was carried out ending with Skyrotors being notified of the a/c location. Skyrotors ops manager flew into the site with fuel and a battery. He was a pilot engineer. He inspected the a/c put in fuel and battery, removed covers and flew the a/c back to Arnprior Ontario.

A note was found on the a/c stating they had stayed in the camp for a number of weeks waiting for search and rescue. They had burned down a large amount of the surrounding bush trying to attract attention to no avail. It turned out they were on course but overflew the camp by 50 miles before setting down due to fuel.

ELTs were not long life in those days due to battery life. The radio tech had used the cells from the aircraft’s nicad battery to power the ELT until they left. When they finally gave up hope they would be found, they left a note explaining everything and their plans and directions they were going to use in their attempt to walk out. They have never been found.

At Skyrotors we could not understand why they were never found. A search and rescue mission should search an area on its flight path at least to the extent of the a/c range so why they were not sighted after burning large amounts of bush is a mystery.

Bombardier’s Amphibious Aircraft Program changes hands

Those of you who maintain/are familiar with the CL215 products, et al, will be pleased to know that Bombardier’s “water bomber” has been  acquired by Viking Air Ltd., based in North Saanich, B.C. I predict that parts availability will improve substantially, for who doesn’t recall the never-ending debacle of excuses from the previous owner, who shall remain hereafter unnamed forever (except for the quotes below)?

Type Certificate Transfer Complete for CL-215, CL-215T, CL-415 and All Variants
Victoria, British Columbia, October 3, 2016: Further to the preliminary announcement made earlier this year, Viking Air Limited of Victoria, British Columbia, has now completed the acquisition of the Amphibious Aircraft program from Bombardier, including transfer of the Type Certificates for the CL-215, CL-215T, CL-415 aircraft and all variants to Viking. –

Here’s the FlightGlobal announcement back in June, 2016:

Viking Air to buy type certificates for Bombardier amphibians

Viking Air has entered a deal to buy Bombardier’s three amphibious aircraft programmes.

The deal covers the type certificates for the CL-215, CL-215T, and Bombardier 415 Superscooper… –

Wheeling and dealing

In 1977, Larry and Viking Helicopters had a Hughes 500 for sale. I looked it over, and then I asked an engineer that I had worked with and trusted to take a good look at it. Mechanically, it appeared to be in pretty good shape. The books looked just as good. Many of the components would last for a year or much longer – depending on usage – before needing any major replacements.

It turned out to be a long walk back to Larry’s office by way of the hanger, during which time many on the shop floor told me that I’d never do it. In fact, I think I recall getting only a single “good luck”. I can tell you that that negativity only encouraged me even more.

With a handshake between us to seal the deal, I was almost the proud owner of a Hughes 500. That handshake held QYU, with a reasonable time limit, until I could arrange financing. I sold everything I owned, found a bank willing to work with me, and damned if I didn’t come up with the money. I was about to become the proud owner of a Hughes 500 C-18, with the lighter transmission.

I returned to Ottawa, shook hands on the deal, and damned if I wasn’t taken by complete surprise when Larry asked if he’d be able to lease the helicopter for a year. Another handshake ensued.

Unasked, Larry went into his file cabinets and brought out copies of several leases for me to take away. He told me I could use them as examples when writing my own lease. When I returned once again, lease in hand, I was told that I had written one of the better leases that he had seen. Whether that was true or not, I was happy.

Larry must have been happy, too, because we shook hands again after we signed and initialed.
The deal was done.

Over time I added the heavy-duty transmission. The C-18 was upgraded to a C-20. In 1979, the aircraft rolled down a hill. Thankfully, no one was injured. Damage was light. Before long, thanks to the lease requirements, it was back in the air, happily turning another 700 hours a year, 200 more than the annual requirement for each lease.

When the helicopter business went into the doldrums in 1981, Larry gave me plenty of warning that he’d be unable to pick up the lease for another term. I didn’t mind. Each year the aircraft operated, I managed to bank an additional 200 hours beyond the lease requirements.

I sold the helicopter to a mom-and-pop operator from western Canada. Sight unseen, and without looking at the tech logs or taking a test flight, the new owner picked it up and ferried it west.

I happily waved good-bye, retired from active flying, and took some time off. The pickle-jar theory of accounting had won out yet again.

Site update

I finally found the time to do a site update. The new theme allows  the site to fit within the display on any device, be it phone, tablet, or laptop/desktop. It’s called making the site responsive, and while it’s not new by any stretch of the imagination, I’ve only just taken the time to upgrade.

Surprisingly, this site continues to generate many thousands of hits in the search engines. I never dreamed that when I began it in 2009 that it would ever get, and remain, so widely popular into 2015. Many thanks to the image contributors (read who they are in the sidebar) as well as the many who find the place, spend time looking around, and choose to leave comments.

Eurocopter X3 hybrid sets new records

The Eurocopter X3 hybrid helicopter has opened the frontiers of aviation by attaining a speed milestone of 255 knots (472 km/hr) in level flight on June 7. Several days before this accomplishment, the X3 reached a speed of 263 knots (487 km/hr) during a descent. With these two successes, the X3 surpasses the unofficial speed record for a helicopter. –

Link here.

X3 Speed Record photo gallery.