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become a pilot (Petersen, Vezmar & Skinner, 2007).


After two years of military serv-


ice, Wes Lematta returned home to Washington. Wes used his GI Bill to take flying lessons at Evergreen Airport. However, he found it hard to get a job flying due to all of the qualified pilots returning from the war. After saving up enough money to buy a bigger truck, Lematta began hauling railroad ties and eventually started a fruit hauling run between Portland and Los Angeles. While on one of these fruit hauling trips with his younger brother Bill in the early 1950s, Wes heard on the radio that there was a need for helicopter pilots. Flying a helicopter sounded like a lot more fun than hauling fruit so Lematta located a man with a helicopter about 30 miles outside of Portland that was willing to teach him to fly. Helicopter lessons were expensive and it took Wes several years to get his helicopter license but his determination carried him through. Wes continued hauling fruit while looking for helicopter jobs which unfortunately were hard to come by. Lematta’s flight instructor told him about a used Hiller 12-B helicopter that was for sale in New Mexico. Wes was very interested in buying the helicopter and starting his own business until he learned that the price was


$22,500 (Petersen, Vezmar & Skinner, 2007). Lematta knew that he didn’t have the money to pur- chase the helicopter and was ready to let the idea go when his older broth- er Ed stepped in. Like Wes, Ed Lematta was a World War II veteran having served with the Coast Guard. Ed and his wife had opened a gas station after the War, but later sold the gas station when Ed decided to go back into the Coast Guard. Ed


offered Wes the proceeds from the sale to help buy the helicopter. Wes decided to accept the offer and the brothers pooled most of their sav- ings to purchase the Hiller. The entire Lematta family got together to choose a name for the new com- pany. Despite only having one hel- icopter, they settled on Columbia Helicopters (with a ‘s’) as they were determined to add more helicopters in the future (Petersen, Vezmar &


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