1949: BELL HELICOPTERS FIRST TO LAND OFFSHORE

July 16, 2017

As the industry entered the last decade of the 20th century, advancing technology ensued. New depth records for drilling reached 7,625 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. The first use of helicopters in transportation to offshore platforms was carried out in 1949, in Louisiana, at the request of Kerr-McGee and Humble Oil & Refining Co. Bell Helicopters had developed the Model 47 and recognized the opportunity by forming Petroleum Bell Helicopters Co. A flat area on a barge anchored next to Humble Rig 28 served as landing pad for one of the first helicopters to be flown offshore. The first request for such transport came a seismographic company. Petroleum Bell Helicopters Inc. went to business in February1949, with an initial investment of $100,000, three Bell 47 D model helicopters, and a small workforce of eight employees. Designed by Arthur Young, the two bladed Bell 47 became the first helicopter certified for civilian use on 8 March 1946. Helicopter services quickly increased when, in the 1950s, offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico started its rapid expansion. By 1952 Petroleum Bell Helicopters began expanding its services on an international scale. By the end of the decade, it had operations in Alaska, Canada, Bolivia, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Greenland. (Source: AOGHS)

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