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decided that Columbia would make an offer. Over the next several years Wes purchased all seven of New York Airways’ helicopters. With 3,000 horsepower and the ability to lift 10,000 pounds, these aircraft have become the work horse of the Columbia fleet. 107s have successfully logged, fought fires and moved oil rigs in remote locations around the world. In addition to these jobs the 107s have performed many one of a kind operations made possible not only by the aircraft’s unique capabilities but also by the many dedicated pilots and maintenance personnel who have become experts on these airframes. Some of these operations include towing a hover barge over broken ice off shore in Alaska, providing famine relief in Sudan and testing an experimental sky- scraper rescue device which used a 1000 foot long line (Petersen, Vezmar & Skinner, 2007). Eventually more 107s were purchased from various entities including the Governments of Thailand, Sweden and Canada. The increase in aircraft and the maintenance needed to support these aircraft led Columbia helicopters to move off of Swan Island in 1976. A new facility was built at the Aurora State Airport, in Aurora, OR about 25 miles outside of Portland. In 1984 Columbia purchased two Boeing Chinook Model 234s from British Airways Helicopters. These helicopters can be likened to the big brother of the 107. Capable of lifting 28,000 pounds, the Model 234 is ideally suited for per- forming the most demanding logging and heavy lift jobs on the planet. Several more Model 234 Chinooks were later purchased from British International Helicopters and Trump Air. Columbia Helicopters went so far as to develop its own in house maintenance program to support the 234s and 107s. Not only can Columbia do complete tear down and rebuilds on its own aircraft but it also does contract maintenance work for several major aircraft manufactures and the United States Army. Columbia Helicopters now holds Type and Production certificates for the 234 and 107 air- frames allowing them to continue to support these out of production aircraft while modifying and improving components and converting other air-


Opposite: A Columbia Helicopters Vertol 107 tows a 190 ton hover barge in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Over the years the Wes Lematta inspired can do attitude of Columbia Helicopters has allowed the company to complete many unique missions such as this first of its kind helicopter resupply operation for an Alaska oil drilling site.


Photo: Courtesy of Cloumbia Helicopters, Inc.


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