|Arthur Young: Maker of the Bell -- Part 2|
by Richard S. Tipton
Maker of the Bell - Part 1
The Model 42 ...beauty and the beast
While Ship 1 was being rebuilt following its crack up, the second Model 30 began making a name for itself by giving rides and participating in a series of demonstrations.
Ship 2 made another big hit May 10, 1944. This time the aircraft went inside the Buffalo Armory to put on a show at the request of the Civil Air Patrol. A crowd of officers and cadets watched in fascination. as Floyd Carlson put the machine through precision maneuvers.
|The aircraft's public debut occurred in March 1944. Heralding the event was a two-page spread in the Buffalo Sunday paper. "Long lines of traffic emerged behind the Gardenville shop," Arthur Young recalled. "Nobody paid too much attention to us when we were conducting our test flights. Now spectators were all over the place."|
Bell Model 30 #2 flying indoors
Buffalo, N.Y. Armory 1944. Civil air Patrol and guests witnessed flights.
Not only did the armory demonstration receive rave reviews, but it represented the first indoor flight of a helicopter in the Western Hemisphere.
During this period the war clouds were breaking up. With the pursuit plane contracts coming to an end. Larry Bell fumed his attention to the helicopter as the answer to the company's future. One day a group of engineers arrived at Gardenville to get acquainted with rotary-wing flight.
|In the spring of 1944, Ship 1 had been rebuilt and was rechristened 1A. Making a spectacular comeback, the helicopter was the star attraction at a soldier's benefit show, staged at Buffalo's Civil Stadium July 4. A crowd of 42,000 attended.|
"The climax of our act was for Floyd to hover the front wheel of the helicopter into my extended hand," Young remarked.
Floyd Carlson prepares to hover the wheel of Ship 1 into the palm of A.Y.'s hand during a demonstration in Buffalo's Civic Stadium.
"Larry's idea was for his main engineering department to develop a larger helicopter after they acquired the basics from us," Young said. "Because we were considered a research unit, I believe he thought they could do a better job."
The proposed helicopter, designated Model 42, looked impressive in design specifications and renderings. It was streamlined with plush seats and room for a pilot and four passengers. An introductory brochure showed a high speed of 130 mph and a maximum range of 450 miles.
Would this sophisticated machine, created from the results of a marketing survey, save the day?
At the same time the engineers were developing the Model 42, the Gardenville group had other plans—the construction of a third Model 30.
"Ship Three wasn't exactly authorized," Bart Kelley reflected. "In fact, management wasn't even aware of it. There was no particular purpose in building this aircraft other than to straighten out the things that were wrong with the first two ships.
"A major change was to forget all about the looks of the fuselage which on ships one and two had resembled an airplane or an automobile. We simply concentrated on making something that would perform the best we know how as a helicopter."
Improvements in the new bird would include a four-wheeled landing gear, an advanced instrument panel and a tubular tailboom.
Ship 3 was taking shape when Kelley received a phone call one night from a young management executive who had been assigned to keep tabs on the Gardenville group.
"We'd been caught," said Kelley. "He'd gotten wind we were building a third helicopter and reminded me that we weren't supposed to be doing this.
"I told him we needed it as a flying test bed—that it would be valuable in helping the production people make their larger helicopter. He finally said it would be OK for research, but if we planned to develop it as a product, Bell management wanted no no part of it.
"I really don't blame him for his statement at the time. He was trying to separate products from research and like Larry Bell, he considered us a research department."
The Gardenville group soon discovered they had a pretty good flying machine when the ship was launched April 25, 1945. In addition to its smooth handling qualities, the helicopter was excellent in autorotation landings. "Ship Three's ride was like sitting in a chair and flying through space," Young observed.
The third Model 30 proved to be the best of the trio to demonstrate. A handicap, however, was that passengers had no protection from the wind and other elements.
To shield the pilot and passenger from the elements, Young (kneeling at left) invented this protective bubble enclosure for Ship 3.
|The third Model 30 proved to be the best of the trio to demonstrate. A handicap, however, was that passengers had no protection from the wind and other elements.|
Young gave the matter some thought. His idea was to take a large piece of heated Plexiglas and blow it up like a soap bubble to cover the dimensions of the cockpit. The ingenious bubble gave the pilot and passenger undistorted vision as well as a comfortable ride.
In the meantime, Ship 2 was putting the helicopter on the map by chalking up impressive accomplishments.
|Many famous personalities were given a spin in the "bubble" machine. They included New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey and the popular Mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia.|
"I remember Mayor LaGuardia stooping under the rotor to get in the ship," Young said, "but I don't know why because he was so short. Harry Truman, who was then vice president, also witnessed test flights before we started giving rides."
Harry S. Truman poses by Ship 1 with Larry Bell in early 1945 when the then vice president visited the plant
On Jan. 15, 1945, a Bell test pilot parachuted from a damaged fighter plane and made his way to an isolated farmhouse. He needed medical attention.
An item in Western Flying magazine read: "A dramatic example of the practical use of the helicopter occurred in weatherlocked Western New York when a Bell Aircraft helicopter carried a doctor to the aid of an injured pilot, snowbound in a farmhouse."
"The helicopter, a two-place experimental model, was flown by Floyd Carlson 20 miles from the Bell helicopter facilities in Gardenville, N.Y. to a point just south of Lockport, N.Y. There, the rotary aircraft landing on a road, took on Dr. Thomas C. Marriott as a passenger, covered five miles in a few minutes and deposited the Buffalo physician in the yard of the farmhouse.
"It is believed to be the first time in the United States a doctor has used a helicopter on a mercy mission."
Ship 2 also had the distinction of being the first Bell helicopter to make a rescue mission. It happened March 14, 1945, when Carlson picked up two men from a crumbling spring ice flow in Lake Erie. Both had been given up for lost, since the ice was too heavy to permit rescue by boat, and too weak to permit rescue by sled.
While the three Model 30 helicopters were making headlines, the sleek Model 42 was proving to be a problem child.
You knew you had problems, for instance, when the pilot pulled the collective pitch lever up and the blades turned down.
|The aircraft was like a combination of beauty and the beast. On the outside, its sweeping lines and classic nose seemed to convey—"this is the helicopter of the future." But strip away the 42's comely cover and you'd find a monstrous tangle of cables winding around drums and a chamber of mechanical horrors.|
Bell Aircraft had great expectations for the streamlined five-place Model 42 that was designed on the basis of a marketing survey.
"The 42's snag was that the engineers had attempted to build a helicopter like an airplane," Young said "Their approach was to make the drawings first, manufacture the ship and test it. Our system was to manufacture, test, make modifications and then make the drawings."
In the meantime, the third Model 30's performance capabilities were drawing quite a few followers.
"Ship 3 came at a time when the company was kind of discouraged, because military orders had been cancelled," Young noted. "The contraption from Gardenville didn't look too pretty, but passengers were sold on the machine after the first ride."
"When the Model 42 was given to us to fix, it was very encouraging, because it was an admission that the Gardenville methods could do what the system could not," Young pointed out.
Several members of the Gardenville Group take a ride on the third Model 30 to test its weight lifting capability. Inventor A.Y. faces the camera behind the seated passengers.
|Larry Bell had also become sold on Ship 3 and made the decision to transfer the responsibility of helicopter development and production from his product department to the Gardenville group. His faith in the project and the men behind it was shown with the placement of a 500 unit order for Franklin engines. Another big job handed to Young and Bart Kelley was to bail out the Model 42.|
During the war, Bell's main plant had been moved from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. To give the group more elbow room and the convenience of the factory facilities, they were relocated there on June 24, 1945.
At Niagara (the Wheatfield Plant), the group was installed in a spacious area, complete with offfices, a hangar and model and machine shops. Other specialists were added to the project; drawings for the production prototype Model 47 materialized.
"To profit by our experience, all the major components of Ship 3 were modified or replaced," Young related. "This included the mast, bar control system, and ground gears in the transmission."
Charged with enthusiasm, Young and his associates started assembly work on the new helicopter.
"We rolled the first Model 47 out on December 8, 1945, less than six months after the Gardenville group arrived in Niagara," Young said. "Things went fast, because we'd gained considerable 'howto' from our Model 30 testing."
It wasn't long before 10 additional aircraft were produced. They would be used for demonstrations, training people to fly and as product improvement vehicles.
Floyd Carlson, who was then chief pilot, tells about the certification program.
"The Civil Aeronautics Administration (now the FAA) had never certified a commercial helicopter and Bell had never experienced certification of a helicopter, so we both had a lot to learn.
"CAA cooperation couldn't have been better. Since we were going after the first commercial helicopter, the CAA sent its best people in from Washington, D.C. to participate in the certification. We even had the head of flight standards to supervise the flight tests.
"The CAA pilot let me do all the flying, which involved a lot of performance testing and precision manuevers. Our aircraft performed right well, especially in autorotation landings where I did throttle chops at different altitudes and speeds.
"There were no major problems during the certification. Today, it's much more time consuming. There was less instrumentation in those days and we didn't have to do such things as load surveys. Another reason we progressed through certification so rapidly was that we'd done so much flying in Ship 3, which was a similar aircraft.
"At the time, we were also in a race with Sikorsky to receive the first commercial ticket, so we had yet more incentive to achieve a successful flight program."
The Model 47's story was a long one. During it's 27-year manufacturing history, over 5,000 commercial and military versions came off the assembly line. When the series was retired in 1973, the machine had been made in more than 20 different configurations and manufactured under license in Italy, Japan and England.
|It happened on March 8, 1946!|
This was the day when the Model 47 was awarded the world's first commercial helicopter license. It was a day that Young described his emotions as "feeling like a combination of a bridegroom at a wedding or a father in a maternity ward."
"Even though it didn't look as sleek as management wished, the homely machine won the day," added Bart Kelley. "It was a story with a happy ending like 'The Ugly Duckling'."
Chief Pilot Floyd Carlson demonstrates the stability of the Model 47 on Mar. 8, 1946, the day Bell was awarded the first commercial helicopter license by the CAA.
What became of the Model 42? Young and Kelley eventually got the bugs out of the ship and it was displayed at a Cleveland air show in December 1946. Sharing the spotlight was a streamlined cabin type Model 47 and the "ugly duckling" bubble bird.
"People swarmed all over the open bubble job and wouldn't touch the Model 42 with a 10-foot pole," Young said. "The customers just wouln't accept it."
Summing up the accomplishments of ArthurYoung, his life-long friend, Bart Kelley said:
"Arthur is not only credited with inventing the world's first commercially practical helicopter, but he has many other talents as well.
"He has recently published four books expounding his new and convincing philosophies. Arthur is also a poet and painter, a talent he inherited from both parents.
"As a boy, Arthur was a ham radio operator. Those were the days when you couldn't buy whole black boxes ready to plug in. He built his own set from scratch, station 3BEC.
"But a list of accomplishments has little meaning without a knowledge of the character of the man.
"Arthur's is an original and penetrating mind. He is always suspicious of the establishment—the conventional approach— whether it be in science or engineering.
"As the most intellectually honest person I know, he can be as hard on himself as he can be impatient with stupidity and artificiality in others. This hasn't always made him easy to deal with, but in the end his uncompromising respect for truth stimulates those around him.
"Add a delightful sense of humor, born of his ability to look objectively at life, and you have a thumbnail sketch of the inventor of the Bell Helicopter."
Maker of the Bell - Part 1