CHC Group (OTC PINK: HELIQ) has announced the beginning of a year-long celebration of the operator´s 70-year history since its beginning as a crop dusting operation in British Columbia in April of 1947, the company said.
CHC traces its roots back to Carl Agar, A.H. “Barney” Bent, and Al Stringer, the three Canadian Air Force veterans who founded Okanagan Air Services on April 18, 1947. Over the next seven decades, CHC evolved from a single helicopter to a global leader in offshore transport, search and rescue, utility, and emergency medical services.
Okanagan Air Service took delivery of its first aircraft in August 1947. By 1950, the company was supporting the world´s largest year-round helicopter-supported construction project located in northern Canada. It was renamed to Okanagan Helicopters Limited in 1952. The company expanded into the oil and gas sectors and operations expanded north to the Arctic Islands, east to Newfoundland, and then south to the United States. By the late 1950s, the company was one of the largest and most experienced helicopter operators in the world.
Okanagan flew its first international contract in Central Asia in 1963, its first twin-engine IFR offshore crew change flight in the North Sea in 1965, and its first offshore flights to drilling platforms off North America´s the Pacific and Atlantic coasts in 1967 and 1969, respectively. During the 1970s and 1980s, the company won international oil and gas contracts in more than two-dozen nations, including the People´s Republic of China.
In 1987, mergers with Sealand Helicopters and Toronto Helicopters created the Canadian Holding Company, which later became CHC. Additional merger and acquisition opportunities included a 1994 merger with British International Helicopters, the 1999 acquisition of Norway´s Helikopter Services Group, and the 2004 acquisition of Schreiner Aviation Group of the Netherlands which had operations in Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 2005, CHC partnered with Brazilian Helicopter Services (BHS) to further expand its capabilities into Latin America. Each of these companies also have their own rich histories that CHC will honor throughout the year.
In 2004, CHC created two distinct divisions: Helicopter Services, which covered global operations and Heli-One, an independent helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider. Today, both divisions continue to serve customers around the world across six continents. Each year more than one million people rely on CHC aircraft to help them safely reach their destinations.