Preserving history is a tough gig... especially bits and pieces of it that comprise a fairly small part of it all. Such is the ultra-dedicated mission of the Lawrence D. Bell Aircraft Museum, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to preserving the legacy of the man that created one of the iconic helicopter companies of the century.
Lawrence D. Bell devoted forty-four years to the aircraft industry. From a barefoot boy in Mentone, Indiana, the town of his birth, he became chairman of the board of one of the nation's foremost aircraft firms, Bell Aircraft Corporation. This firm produced such significant aviation contributions as the nation's first jet propelled airplane, the world's first commercial helicopter, the world's fastest and highest flying airplane, the Bell X-1A, and the first jet vertical take-off and landing plane.
ANN had the coveted chance to visit the museum during the annual PRA Convention and came away with some interesting stories. In this case; our attention is on one of the rarest early efforts of bell to not only build his company but build a market for helicopters as business transportation... the Bell 47H. The three-seat 47H offered an enclosed cabin, a full cowling and a monocoque tail boom -- making for a rakish and aerodynamic look in an attempt to offer a "luxury" version of the more basic 47G. Some 33 were known to have been produced.
The Bell 47H's enclosed cabin offered sound-proofing and 'car-size' leather seats and leather trim. Baggage was stored in a compartment in the tail boom. The Bell 47H was powered by a 200 hp Franklin 6V4-200-C32 six-cylinder piston engine.
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