Swanson Group Aviation based in Grants Pass, OR, recently hauled 2.45 million pounds of boulders to the top of a 10,400 foot mountain peak in Mt. Lassen National Park in northern California with a company-owned and operated Kaman K-MAXâ„¢ cargo helicopter. The helicopter, dubbed the Aerial Truck, completed the move in just over 40 hours.
Swansonâ€™s K-MAXâ„¢, flying under a U.S. government contract, used a specially designed bucket system to dump the 500-700 pound rocks at the top of the mountain peak while maintaining a steady hover, avoiding the landing process.Â â€œThe K-MAXâ€™s unique rotor system provides excellent high-altitude lift performanceâ€ stated Jeff Allen, director of business development for Swanson Group Aviation. â€œWe were able to carry nearly 5000 pound loads, even at this altitude,â€ continued Allen.
Carson Johnson, Swanson Group Aviationâ€™s vice president, said that the Swanson Group started using the K-MAX initially to support their parent companyâ€™s forest products division, providing helicopter logging services to support its saw mills in the northwestern U.S. â€œIn that role, the Kâ€‘MAX typically lifts over one million pounds of timber a day, and on a few occasions, weâ€™ve exceeded two million poundsâ€ stated Carson. â€œThe K-MAX really does remind you of a truck. It doesnâ€™t require much maintenance, even when weâ€™re flying over thirty lifts per hour,â€ said Carson. Swanson Group operates their K-MAX with one pilot and one mechanic, and typically leaves the machine parked in the woods overnight while operating in these remote sites. â€œWe donâ€™t normally have the luxury of hangars where the K-MAX livesâ€ stated Carson, â€œbut the machine was designed to handle this kind of work, and does it remarkably well.â€
â€œWeâ€™re proud of this aircraft and its capabilities that Swanson and customers worldwide benefit from on a daily basis,â€ said Sal Bordonaro, president of Kaman Helicopters. â€œThis is exactly the type of mission K-MAX was designed to handle.Â Through our partnership with Lockheed Martin, we continue to invest in the unmanned Kâ€‘MAX program for the U.S. military. Taking a machine that has proven itself as an aerial truck, and using it for unmanned cargo movements for the military is a natural progression. Itâ€™s simple and itâ€™s strong, just what youâ€™d want in an unmanned aerial truckâ€ stated Bordonaro.
Swanson Group Aviation, a Swanson Group Inc. company, is based in Grants Pass, Oregon and is a leading worldwide helicopter operator that specializes in external lift applications in mountainous and high altitude environments. The company operates two K-MAX and AS 350B2 helicopters for a variety of difficult missions, ranging from wildland firefighting to helicopter logging and thinning, as well as precise construction, seismic, and light utility operations.
Kaman Helicopters is a division of Kaman Aerospace Corporation, a subsidiary of Kaman Corporation (NASDAQ-GS: KAMN). Founded in 1945 by aviation pioneer Charles H. Kaman, and headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut, Kaman conducts business in the aerospace and industrial distribution markets.Â The company produces and/or markets widely used proprietary aircraft bearings and components; complex metallic and composite aerostructures for commercial, military and general aviation fixed and rotary wing aircraft; safing and arming solutions for missile and bomb systems for the U.S. and allied militaries; subcontract helicopter work; and support for the companyâ€™s SH-2G Super Seasprite maritime helicopters and K-MAX medium-to-heavy lift helicopters.Â The company is also the third largest industrial distributor of bearings, power transmission, fluid power, motion control and automation products in North America and operates more than 200 branches, distribution centers and customer service centers across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
HeliHub.com editor note – 2.45 Million pounds weighs about 1,111 tonnes
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