Helicopters

The development of the airplane began the history of manned flight, and the invention of the helicopter changed that history forever. Able to take off and land vertically, hover above a fixed target, and even fly backwards, the helicopter revolutionized air rescue, military support, firefighting, emergency relief, and much more. Explore these amazing aircraft in our diverse helicopter displays that include both commercial and military helicopters.

Military Helicopters

The Wright brothers are only the beginning of aeronautic history. Their fragile designs led to countless early experiments in flight. Discover how these fledgling beginnings led to the solid aircrafts we know today. Travel back in time as you marvel at the innovation and beauty of these early planes.

Bell AH-1F
Bell AH-1F Cobra While the helicopter had proven to be an indispensable mode of transport during the Korean War, it was in Vietnam that the helicopter became master of the battlefield. Much of this was because of the Bell AH-1 Cobra, the first helicopter designed from the start as a flying gun platform. First flown in 1965, the Cobra was designed to provide fast, mobile, close air support for troops in combat and to provide an escort for troop carrying helicopters.

Bell HTL-3
Bell HTL-3 Between 1947 and 1958, the U.S. Navy procured a number of Bell helicopters for use as trainers and utility duties, recognizing that the helicopter could be a valuable tool aboard ships at sea or on shore. In 1947, the Navy borrowed 10 Bell Model 47As from the U.S. Air Force for testing and evaluation, which were designated HTLs. Pleased with the results, they ordered the HTL-3 as an advanced version with a more powerful engine and an enclosed fuselage.

Bell OH-13E
Bell OH-13E Sioux When most people think of small helicopters, they think of a Bell Model 47. The military version of the Model 47, the OH-13 was a rugged, general purpose observation and utility helicopter that was also quickly pressed into service as a flying ambulance.

Bell UH-1H
Bell UH-1H Iroquois Perhaps no other aircraft is as closely associated with the Vietnam War as the Bell UH-1 Iroquois. Popularly called the Huey, its wide-spread use made it a symbol of the war in the minds of the public. Created as utility helicopters, they were tasked with troop and supply transport, medical evacuation, convoy escort, waterway patrol and even as gunships. In their role as flying ambulances, these Hueys could hold up to six stretchers, as well as three medical personnel.

Hiller UH-12E
Hiller UH-12E Raven Helicopters have big advantages over traditional fixed wing aircraft. They need no runways for takeoffs and landings, can lift and place heavy items, and fit in tight spaces. Hiller UH-12Es are industrial workhorses. They are superior vehicles for work in agriculture, construction, forestry and petroleum exploration. They cost-effectively distribute seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, and lift timber and building materials. A rugged “jack-of-all-trades,” these helicopters are also used for fire fighting, law enforcement, and as “Angels of Mercy” in disaster relief and search and rescue missions. This Hiller UH-12E is one of two Hillers with which Delford Smith started Evergreen Helicopters, Inc. in the early 1960s.

Kaman
Kaman SH-2F Seasprite Designed for use on the confined decks of U.S. Navy destroyers, the Seasprite is a compact helicopter which features folding rotor blades to reduce its length. Originally assigned search and rescue and utility missions, the Seasprite was later adapted for anti-submarine warfare. As an integral part of every naval task force, the Seasprites provided a ring of submarine protection around the ships with a variety of sensors and weapons including homing torpedoes.

Sikorsky
Sikorsky H-19D Chickasaw During the Korean War, the U.S. Army lacked helicopters with large payload capacity, and the Sikorsky H-19 helped to solve this problem. Designed throughout a span of seven months, it was a departure from earlier helicopters, with the engine located in the nose and the pilots up high to make room for more passengers or cargo.

Sikorsky
Sikorsky UH-3H Sea King Developed for the U.S. Navy, the Sikorsky H-3 Sea King family of helicopters was designed around its ability to track and destroy submarines. Featuring a folding tail and rotor blades, the Sea King could operate from destroyers, as well as aircraft carriers, to provide protection to the fleet. It carried “dipping” sonar to listen for submerged subs and homing torpedoes to make the kill if necessary.

Sikorsky
Sikorsky UH-34 Sea Horse The UH-34 began life as an enlarged version of Sikorsky’s H-19 and incorporated many of its features, such as a nose mounted engine and an elevated cockpit to provide more space for cargo. The big, capable helicopter served with all US services, and many foreign countries as a troop carrier, medevac and anti-sub platform. This particular UH-34D served in combat with the South Vietnamese Air Force, in the Vietnam War.

Sikorsky
Sikorsky HO-3-F (S-51) Dragonfly Best known for its appearance with Mickey Rooney and Will Holden in the movie Bridges of Toko-Ri the Sikorsky HO3S is an iconic and versatile helicopter. Its career spanned many roles from search and rescue to anti-submarine warfare. It was the first helicopter that Sikorsky offered for civilian use. In December 1946, an agreement was signed by Westland Aircraft in Britain and Sikorsky to produce the S-51 under license.

Piasecki
Piasecki H-21 Shawnee The H-21 features the tandem rotor layout favored by Piasecki Helicopter for canceling the torque caused by spinning rotors. Nicknamed the “flying banana,” it was originally designed as an arctic rescue helicopter to operate and be maintained in temperatures down to -65 degrees Fahrenheit. With help of in-flight refueling the H-21 became the first helicopter to fly nonstop across the country, and Shawnees saw heavy action in the Vietnam War.

Commercial Helicopters

Whether they are reporting on traffic conditions, transporting backcountry skiers, or aiding in a rescue, commercial helicopters have played pivotal role in aviation history. Visit our helicopter exhibit to learn more about these versatile machines.

Hiller
Hiller UH-12E3 Raven Helicopters have big advantages over traditional fixed wing aircraft. They need no runways for takeoffs and landings, can lift and place heavy items, and fit in tight spaces. Hiller UH-12Es are industrial workhorses. They are superior vehicles for work in agriculture, construction, forestry and petroleum exploration. They cost-effectively distribute seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, and lift timber and building materials. A rugged “jack-of-all-trades,” these helicopters are also used for fire fighting, law enforcement, and as “Angels of Mercy” in disaster relief and search and rescue missions. This Hiller UH-12E is one of two Hillers with which Delford Smith started Evergreen Helicopters, Inc. in the early 1960s.

Bell HTL-3
Bell HTL-3 Between 1947 and 1958, the U.S. Navy procured a number of Bell helicopters for use as trainers and utility duties, recognizing that the helicopter could be a valuable tool aboard ships at sea or on shore. In 1947, the Navy borrowed 10 Bell Model 47As from the U.S. Air Force for testing and evaluation, which were designated HTLs. Pleased with the results, they ordered the HTL-3 as an advanced version with a more powerful engine and an enclosed fuselage.

Bell OH-132
Bell OH-132 Sioux When most people think of small helicopters, they think of a Bell Model 47. The military version of the Model 47, the OH-13 was a rugged, general purpose observation and utility helicopter that was also quickly pressed into service as a flying ambulance.

Hughes
Hughes Model 269A Osage In the mid-1950s, helicopter technology had improved to the point that some people believed there might soon be a “chopper” in every garage. While many others failed, Hughes’ Model 269 and its derivatives captured a large share of the market. It was Hughes’ first commercial helicopter venture. The advanced, lightweight, low cost 269A entered production in 1957. TV and radio stations, utility and oil companies, construction and engineering firms, farmers and ranchers, and charter and air taxi services used the little helicopters.

Hughes
Hughes 500D The Hughes 500 helicopter was originally created to meet a 1963 U.S. Army requirement for a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH), and was successfully employed in Vietnam and beyond as the OH-6 Cayuse. This fast, light helicopter was used as an aeroscout, working ahead of an assault group to probe for the enemy; a job that was dangerous and had a high casualty rate.

Bell
Bell 206 Jet Ranger In 1960, Bell was one of 12 manufacturers who submitted designs for a U.S. Army light observation helicopter. After losing the competition, Bell redesigned their model 206 to have a better payload capacity, gave it a more aesthetically pleasing look and presented it to the civilian market. It became an immediate hit as a transport for business executives, police departments, and sight-seeing tour operators. The U.S. Navy then decided to procure it for basic helicopter training and the Army acquired them as light observation scout helicopters under the designation OH-57 Kiowa. This Bell 206 is on loan from the Evergreen Helicopter Company.