Bell Helicopter A Textron Company


  • Bell Helicopter


Bell Aircraft Corporation, the predecessor of Bell Helicopter Textron was founded July 10, 1935 in Buffalo, New York by Lawrence D. Bell, a man referred to as "America's most seasoned dreamer."

Bell Aircraft Corporation created a Helicopter Division which moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 1951 and became Bell Helicopter Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bell Aircraft Corporation.

In 1960, Textron of Providence, Rhode Island bought various Bell Aircraft properties including the Helicopter operation. Textron changed the name of the helicopter operation to Bell Helicopter Company, and within a few years established itself as Textron's largest division. In January 1976 the name was changed to what it is today, "Bell Helicopter Textron".

In 1946 pioneers like Floyd Carlson, Joe Mashman, Art Young and Dick Stansbury were the experimental pilots developing the first Bell Helicopter models in Buffalo, New York. In 1947 they conducted flight instruction in NC-1H a Model 47; the first helicopter to receive CAA certification. In those days the Buffalo operation was essentially the only place where a pilot could get flight instruction in helicopters. The first Army helicopter pilots took their training from Bell Helicopter at this Gardenville, N.Y. location.

When Bell Aircraft moved the helicopter operation to Fort Worth, Texas, all of the initial operations, including flight and maintenance training in the Model 47 took place at a leased facility in Saginaw, Texas just north of Fort Worth. This original plant, which was used for a variety of design, production, testing and training operations was commonly called the Globe Plant. This was a Naval facility that was acquired to manufacture the Cessna "Bamboo Bombers" late in the WW II era.

After the war, this flying field was leased to Bell Helicopter. For history buffs, this was the original Globe "Swift" Airplane manufacturing facility. Pilot and maintenance training continued at the Globe Plant until 1970 when a new classroom and maintenance instruction hangar was built in Hurst just southwest of the main plant. This was location of the Bell Helicopter Training Academy and Delivery Center until 2004. Initially, pilot and mechanic training was limited to the Model 47 and the 206 JetRanger. This new Bell Training Facility offered hands on pilot and maintainer training using real aircraft in a setting considered to be state of the art. This modern facility hosted training conducted by a staff of 20 people including two Instructor Pilots.

The Model 206A "JetRanger" was added to the commercial product line in 1967, and as other models were produced the Training Academy staff and facility continued to grow. More hangar space, more classrooms, more aircraft, more training aids, and more maintenance and flight instructors.

In 1978 Bell Helicopter and Flight Safety International entered into an agreement under which Flight Safety took responsibility for the classroom and simulator training in medium twin helicopters. At the present time Flight Safety has visual and motion based simulators for the 212/412, 222/230 and 430 helicopters at their facility adjacent to the Bell Helicopter Training Academy.

In 1996, the Bell Helicopter Training Academy opened an 18,000 square-foot wing, providing much-needed additional office and classroom space to handle the heavy customer load. From a mere trickle when Bell began training in Buffalo in the 40's, the Training Academy saw its 90,000th customer complete training in 2003. Traditional mechanic and pilot training has been the primary product of the Training Academy; but it also has the capability of producing state-of-the-art Computer Based Training (CBT). Developed primarily to meet the needs of the U.S. Military for OH-58D and V-22 pilot and mechanic training. The same educational technologies are being applied to commercial training programs.

The Bell Helicopter Training Academy moved to the new Customer Center located at Alliance Airport in January of 2005 and, now has a staff and offices of 62 people; 8 helicopters; 27 classrooms and laboratories, 5 Flight Training Devices; and the desire to deliver the highest quality products and services to the helicopter industry. We have genuine interest in our customers, provide the highest quality of training available and instruct in exceptional aircraft. All of this combines to embody our motto "We train the world."

You can read more about the history of Bell Helicopter here.

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