First helicopter I ever saw . . . . . First helicopter I ever got a ride in . . . . . First helicopter I ever flew
When a joint venture with LTV ended in 1970, The French aviation
companies involved wished to continue to market their Alouette and Ecureuil
helicopters in the U.S. A new company was formed under the name of Aerospatiale
Helicopters Corporation in Texas. The company was operated first out of the
South LTV warehouse while a new fuselage (the Astar and TwinStar) design was
developed. A new facility was built in late 1978 on the west side of Grand
Prairie Municipal Airport from which the company expanded its U.S. modification
The basic French versions included:
1972: SA360 Dauphin and AS365 Dauphin2 - The Dauphin was originally designed as the successor to the Alouette III. The first Dauphin was a single-engine aircraft. In response to the development of the market a new twin-engine version was developed.
1974: AS350/355 Ecureuil/AStar - Following the commercial success of the Alouette II, but a new helicopter with five seats needed to be developed with a goal of obtaining cost effective operation. Some were delivered with the French Ecureuil (squirrel) engine and a greater number with the U.S. Lycoming engine. By 1976 there were 600 Astars and TwinSrars on back order, mostly from oil production companies.
1977: AS331 Puma and AS332 Super Puma - Development criteria for the Super Puma took into account the request from Puma operators for improved safety. The mechanical design and the appearance of anti-crash fuel tanks were an example. Author Marvin Arnold joined AHC in 1977 to custom design the avionics systems for three Puma helicopter for the President of Mexico. The installations included Flight Directors and the first color radar every installed in a helicopter.
There were three other versions of some note: The Lama, the Gazelle and the Coast Guard Dauphine.
The Lama - lifting work-horse chopper.
Avionics Engineering Design Department - Grand Prairie, Texas.
Chief of Avionics Engineering, Marvin Arnold, left Aerospaciale in 1989 to
found Datatron Systems Inc a computer software developement company.
The SA365 -
All new U.S avionics. The photo may look real, but it was a full-scale mockup for the HAI.
The SA366 - U.S.
Coast Guard version.
When the SA366 U.S. Coast Guard version was announced, Chief Engineer
Marvin Arnold took over management of the Commercial Avionics Division.
The Gazelle - First IFR helicopter ever U.S. FAA approved and was done at Grand Prairie.
Great fun shooting IFR test approaches in the little sports/hot rod chopper at Meacham Field.
Stories of Aerospatiale are in Marvin Arnold's book "Flying Stories"
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