A look at History - Helicopter Air Transport

The year is 1945, the World is still in chaos with World War Two finally being over. Europe is in the stages of being rebuilt and divided.
Norman Edgar is in the United States starting his newest company, the Helicopter Air Transport. Located in in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Edgar and Jonathan Wilford would become the very first company to operate helicopters commercially.


As the company began Helicopter Air Transport (HAT) began hiring ex Army Air Corp helicopter pilots and former World War Two pilots. Pilot Peter Wright, a former Second World War pilot with the “Flying Tigers” in China, was hired as the sales manager. The new chief pilot was Major Frank T. Cashman, a former Army Air Force chief instructor pilot on helicopters at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. On July 29, 1946, Sikorsky Aircraft became the first to deliver a helicopter — the S-51 — for commercial use.

The aircraft had its airworthiness certificate, and would be operated on a temporary type certificate until the official one was awarded the following year. HAT would later order two more S-51s on order for general and charter use, at a cost of $48,500 per aircraft. As it turned out, HAT received the S-51s at a bargain price, as the type later sold at $70,000. Bell Aircraft delivered the first of three Bell 47Bs to HAT on Dec. 31, 1946. Each one cost $25,000, taking HAT’s investment in its first six helicopters to over $220,000. As they grew their contracts also grew, flying everything from passengers to US Mail, the cost to rent a Bell 47B was about $75/hour and around $125/hour for the larger S-51. This was a considerable amount of money in 1946. The passenger rate per mile (one way) was estimated to be about 35 cents.

During the fall of 1946, all three S-51s were put to work. They moved commuters and executives, inspected powerlines and pipelines, carried out water surveys, helped police departments, performed experimental forest fire patrols, and completed some limited crop dusting and spraying of crops and pesticides. They also offered simple helicopter rides, flew publicity flights at baseball and football games, served as aerial taxis from Philadelphia to the Atlantic City racetrack, transported politicians on campaigns, performed aerial photography, and even transported Santa Claus over the holidays.

That September, an S-51 was destroyed in a training accident. Around the same time, HAT’s financial problems began to be a serious issue. There was simply not enough cash coming in to cover the costs of running a helicopter company. As a result, on Oct. 21, it filed for bankruptcy.

It was given 30 days to reorganize, but unfortunately it was forced to shut down.

Sikorsky repossessed HAT’s two S-51s, and later sold them to the U.S. Coast Guard and to the French government. The three Bell 47Bs were taken back by Bell, and sold to Rick Helicopters and New England Helicopter Service.

HAT’s assets were sold in a public auction at the Central Airport in Camden on April 2, 1948. The XR-1A was sold to Frank Piasecki, and was flown to the Piasecki facilities by Leavitt.


See we like helicopters down here too! 😂


And hopefully you learned something new ;)


Learning is fun with Mr. Mark! The old helicopters lol like cartoon helicopters lol.

1 Like

Haha! Education is fun!

1 Like

Very interesting I like that post thanks for the history lesson

1 Like

You’re welcome!

Just got my daily dose of edeucasheon.


Helicopters are cool! Lol

Saw the title and though That topic will be made by Mark, no doubt.

In all seriousness, this a very well put together topic, and a great piece of aviation history.


I hope some one makes it one time and it isn’t me lol

1 Like

A topic on helicopters, not by you? You’re funny!

1 Like

There is another professional helicopter pilot on here! Lol

You explained in a way that was so BUITIFUL that I loved and thanks for the past informs of the S-51 a way of traveling in aviation on the 1900s

So a big HUG for the past and everybody in this chat some of you might not feel welcomed because I have been there and remember with having a growth mindset and perseverance and the help of the lovely community you can get through it.


1 Like

Thank you! @Helicopterzzz

You are very welcome

1 Like

Of course Mark made it. Anyway, thanks for this, learnt something new today!

1 Like

Whenever I see a topic with “helicopters” in the name I know it’s @anon93248082 at it again 😂

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.