May 2015

2015 May
Columbia 107-II

First flight of the production Boeing Vertol BV-107-II: May 19, 1961

Columbia’s workhorse 107 registered as N6674D has the highest airframe flight hours of any helicopter in the world, military or commercial – 74,591.6 hours as of September 2014.

Columbia Helicopters Inc. was founded by Wes Lematta in 1957 with a single helicopter, a Hiller 12-B, and is a world leader in commercial heavy-lift helicopter operations. Today, CHI is the only operator of the Boeing Vertol 107-II and Kawasaki Vertol KV-107-II which began in 1972 and is one of two operators of the Model 234 (1985) – which are the commercial models of the CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, respectively. In late 2006, CHI acquired the type certificates for the 107 and the 234 from the Boeing Company. The company currently operates 14 107-II and 8 Model 234 tandems, as well as 5 Chinooks for non-passenger carrying utility service. The company offers lifting services to industries such as forestry (helicopter logging), construction, petroleum exploration, government support, disaster relief and fighting wild fires.

Vertol Aircraft Corporation’s company-funded V-107 prototype first flew in April 1958 and was designated the YHC-1A when the US Army ordered 10, and later was designated Vertol HRB-1 for the Marines (later, Boeing Vertol CH-46A Sea Knight). More than 600 were built for the US Navy, Marine Corps, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Japan. The improved commercial/export variant, the V-107-II, was first ordered by New York Airways in 1960, configured for 25 passengers. Several other airlines also put the 107-II into service.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries built 160 KV-107-IIs under license from Boeing Vertol, with the last KV-107 delivered in February 1990. Japan’s Self-Defense Forces’ last KV-107 was retired in November 2009.  Boeing Vertol’s last new ‘factory fresh’ US-built Sea Knight for the Marine Corps, a CH-46F, was delivered in February 1971.

First flight of the first production Boeing Vertol BV-107-II airliner was in May 1961 and the Columbia 107-II that is this month’s featured aircraft, N6674D, was delivered to New York Airways on July 3, 1962 and sold to Columbia in January 1972.

(Photo by Dan Sweet, Columbia Helicopters; text by Mike Hirschberg and Ken Bartie)

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