Since the first commercial helicopter – a Bell 47 flew in British Columbia in 1947, helicopters have been instrumental in the development and supply of remote communities throughout the province. That first helicopter is now on display at the BC Aviation Museum. Also on display is a former Canadian Coast Guard Alouette III helicopter which was based and flown from the Coast Guard station in Victoria, BC. Victoria based VIH Aerospace Ltd./Vancouver Island Helicopters has become a world contender in heavy lift helicopter services.
Aerospatiale Alouette III
Our Alouette was manufactured by Aerospatiale in Marignane, France in July, 1966. During 1967 it was delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard in Victoria, B.C. and served the Guard for 20 years. In 1987 the aircraft was donated to the B.C. Institute of Technology for student training. It was subsequently donated to the Steveston-London Secondary School. In May, 2016 the Alouette was generously donated to the Museum and has returned to the community in which served so many years.
Bell Model 47
Larry Bell was one of the first to develop a helicopter that didn’t shake itself to pieces. The Model 47 in fact was so good that over 6,200 were built during the next thirty years, and modern light helicopters are remarkably similar in layout. The Model 47 first flew in December 1945, and received the first licence for a general purpose helicopter four months later.
Our example was the first commercial helicopter to be operated in BC in 1948. It originally had an open cockpit, an enclosed tail boom, and a wheeled undercarriage. An upgrading to 47D standards saw a bubble canopy added, the tail boom uncovered, a tail rotor guard called a "harp" added, plus a skid undercarriage. This helicopter is owned by the Royal British Columbia Museum and is on long-term loan to the BCAM.
RotorWay “Scorpion II”
Rotorway built its first helicopter in 1961. The “Scorpion” was offered in 1967 as the first workable kit helicopter. It was a single-seater intended for the sport flying market. As such it was simple and relatively cheap by helicopter standards. An improved version was offered in 1971 as the “Scorpion II”. It had a 115 hp Evinrude outboard engine providing enough power to lift two small people.
Our example of this home-built helicopter was built in 1973. It flew until 1978 and sat for 25 years until purchased by Ted Fisher who began a restoration programme. Tragically Mr.Fisher was killed in an airplane accident in 2006. His relatives donated this “Scorpion II” to the Museum in 2011.