- and thanks to steadfast pilots can be used to fight fires
Originally developed in 1967 to be used by the United States Army, the Bell YOH-4 as it was called at that stage, failed to be accepted by the army's Light Observation Helicopter program. Bell was confident that the design was good, so they slightly redesigned the aircraft and marketed it commercially, with great success, as the Bell 206A JetRanger. This redesign also meant that further down the track (in 1969) the US Army did accept the type as suitable for military service, and it became known by the military as the Bell OH-58 Kiowa.The 206 is a family of two-bladed, single- or twin-engined helicopters, some of which are still being built by Bell Helicopter at its Mirabel, Quebec plant today (2016). To date over 7,300 examples of the JetRanger in all it's many variants have been built, and they've found a variety of roles all around the world. Many are used by news media organisations in North America, while several such as those owned by H. Ross Perot Jnr, Australian businessman Dick Smith, and Ron Bower have been used for record-breaking round-the-world helicopter flights.
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Local helicopter companies and their pilots regularly help fight fires in the Marlborough (NZ) district during the summer, and the local populace greatly appreciates the time and effort that these folks put in to saving homes and property. Well done Marlborough Helicopters, and thanks for your hard work.The next time you run into a helicopter pilot, ask him or her if they're ever involved in air ambulance, rescue and/or fire fighting roles, and if they are, make sure that you show your appreciation. These folks often go way beyond the bounds of their duty when flying these types of missions, and they all deserve our respect and thanks.