Bell Aircraft Corporation Buffalo NY
First Flight, Bell 47 December 8, 1945
Acquisition Source: Dr. Carrol M.Voss Donation
The original Bell 47 was a production version of Bell's experimental Model 30. The first of an initial ten Bell 47s, with 178 h.p. Franklin engines, was flown on 8 December 1945. The C.A.A. type approval certificate granted to this aircraft on 8 March 1946 was the first ever awarded to a commercial helicopter anywhere in the world.
This small two‑place, single engine helicopter had side by side seats within a two‑door cabin forward of the engine compartment and a centrally mounted instrument panel and dual controls. Bell's patented two‑blade rotor and stabilizer bar made the small helicopter very stable in-flight and the unique quadracycle landing gear with 360° pivoting front wheels facilitated ground handling.
Large‑scale production, initiated in 1946, began with the military Bell 47A and civil 47B, both with 178 h.p. Franklins. Sixteen 47As were completed for U.S. Army evaluation, and two for the U.S.A.A.F. with the designation YR‑13; ten similar HTL‑1s were tested by the U.S. Navy. An enclosed cabin seating two crew members side by side was standard on most early A and B models, but a utility/agricultural version, the 47B‑3, had open crew positions.
The helicopter exhibited here (FAA Registration #NC5H) is the third of forty three production 47Bs. It was originally used as a Bell demonstrator until it was sold to Chicago Seaplane Base in April 1951 where it was used in student training and charter work. It had an interesting history of work including a short period in Africa before being purchased in February 1958 by Dr. Carrol Voss of Inc. He modified the aircraft and used it in agricultural applications for many years before restoring it to its original configuration in 1982. Dr. Voss donated the helicopter to the American Helicopter Museum on November 17, 1996.