Orlando Helicopter Airways, Inc.
In 1959, Fred Clark, the father of Brad, founder of Orlando Helicopter Airways, Inc. began flying Sikorsky S-52’s for tours at Cape Kennedy. He also conducted agricultural spraying operations and power line patrols.
In 1970, the Sikorsky S-55 Heli-Camper helicopter was introduced, fully carpeted and soundproofed, hot and cold water, refrigerator, two-burner stove, shower, wash basin, toilet, air conditioning, TV, AM/FM stereo radio and tape deck, pull out awning, tinted windows, bar and storage cabinets, dual flight controls, full night lighting and dual landing lights, inter-phone system, com/nav radio and emergency locator beacon, slept four people, and was FAA certified. It was marketed by Winnebago.
In the 1970’s, OHA converted Sikorsky S-58 helicopters from the 1500 horsepower R1820 radial engine to the Pratt & Whitney PT6 twin turbine powerplants for the Sikorsky factory. Seventeen helicopters were converted. They were able to carry eighteen passengers. Many were converted for foreign airlines and Presidential helicopters.
In the 1970’s, OHA converted the Sikorsky S-55 helicopter’s for operating agricultural spray systems for helicopters, spraying aquatic, row crops, orange groves.
In the 1970’s, OHA introduced the Sikorsky S-55 Nite-Writer aerial advertising model with 40x8ft Sky Sign Inc. computerized electronic billboard. It was mounted to the side of the helicopter with a display running messages, logos and graphic. It was legible at up to 1.7 miles.
In 1976, an electric helicopter using the Hummingbird design was developed. It was the first full size helicopter powered by an electric motor. Funded by NASA, the concept was completed with lead acid batteries. The next phase was a lithium hydroxide power cell running a single Gould torpedo motor located directly under the rotor head.
In 1987, the company was awarded a contract from Redstone Arsenal to produce fifteen Russian MIL-24 Hind flying drone simulators. Honeywell provided the flight control system and telemetry. These helicopters were used to test weapon systems at White Sands Missile Range.
In 1991, Vertical Aviation Technologies, Inc. finalized the tooling and fixtures to manufacture all new components for the Hummingbird and began selling Hummingbird helicopter kits worldwide. Improvements include a new nose design, powerplant conversion, composite fairings and cowlings, electric cyclic trim, instrument panel, and improved main rotor blades. The Hummingbird is the world’s first FAA certified helicopter to be sold in kit form. There are no life limited components except for the main and tail blades. Because of the over built design, the rotorhead, tail rotor, and main shaft have no fatigue life. The main blades are 1,200 hours and the tail blades are 4,000 hours. The Hummingbird helicopter kit meets the FAA 51% rule.
In 1990, development began for a new version of the Sikorsky S-55 helicopter with a Garrett turbine engine.
In 1991, Vertical Aviation Technologies, Inc. purchased assets of Orlando Helicopter Airways, Inc. and the FAA repair station, continuing Orlando’s activity in remanufactured Sikorsky Helicopters.
In 1993, Vertical Aviation Technologies, Inc. started development and FAA certification for a nine passenger Transport Category Super Quiet helicopter appropriately named the Whisper Jet. Development and Certification to make the world’s quietest production helicopter took nine years and included a new five blade quiet rotor system and a turbine powerplant with silencers. The primary mission for the Whisper Jet was tour flights over noise sensitive areas such as the Grand Canyon. Features included a plush interior with large windows, a window looking down through the floor, air conditioning and a sound system.
In 1995, Vertical Aviation Technologies, Inc. remanufactured a Sikorsky S-62 for a customer in West Palm Beach, Florida with an executive interior.
In 1997, Vertical Aviation Technologies, Inc. was awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin for a Sikorsky S-55 turbine conversion helicopter. Further modifications for this helicopter include a left side cabin door, accommodation for nine passengers, composite fairings and panels, solid-state electrical components, new instrument panel with upgraded flight and navigation equipment, cargo sling and hoist. A new bleed air cabin heating system was installed. Lockheed Martin used the helicopter to support a defense contract in the remote areas of the Arctic. It is to date the only helicopter purchased by this large company to compete head to head with the major manufactures.
2001 - Present
From 2001 to the present, Vertical Aviation Technologies, Inc. has spent time developing and perfecting it's current model 300L with an IO-540 Engine. VAT wants to give it's customer a completely specialized and well constructed product. The engineers at Vertical Aviation Technologies continue to develop new and innovative products to offer it's customers. VAT looks forward to the future and to all of the new products it will be introducing to the world.