THE WORLD’S FIRST purpose-built amphibious helicopter with a boat-type hull, the S-62 prototype, N880 (shown), first flew on May 22, 1958. Powered a 1,050 s.h.p. General Electric CT58-110-1 turboshaft engine, the type could carry up to 11 passengers. Its cruising speed was 85kt, with a maximum speed of 95kt. Maximum take-off weight was 8,300lb (3,765kg). SFO Helicopter operated a total of four S-62As, registered N323Y, N978, N975 and the prototype, N880.
Sikorsky S-62 N978 (c/n 62-009) was delivered to the company when it was established in 1961.
The three S-61Ns operated by SFO Helicopter were N307Y, as seen here in the company’s 1960s colour scheme, N317Y (which later became G-BEID in the UK, and ditched in the North Sea in 1988) and N4606G.
In 1976 S-61N N307Y (c/n 61-222) was put into an eye-catching yellow and black colour scheme with a friendly face, in line with SFO Helicopter’s “Beeline” promotional campaign, which used the bee motif at RIGHT. By December 1976, however, SFO Helicopter had collapsed and N307Y was sold to British Airways Helicopters to become G-BEIC. It later went to Canada and was reportedly still working in Afghanistan in 2013 as N804AR.
With the double-deck elevated Embarcadero Freeway as a backdrop, S-62 N307Y hovers above the Downtown San Francisco Heliport landing pad, with the terminal building behind, in April 1969. The Embarcadero Freeway was later damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 and was subsequently torn down in 1991.
With the city’s distinctive Bay Bridge in the background, a pair of businessmen watch one of SFO Helicopter’s S-61Ns depart the Downtown San Francisco Heliport in 1968.
The SFO fleet was given a makeover in the early 1970s, acquiring a tasteful new colour scheme of dark blue upper surfaces and a red cheat line separated by a narrow white line running the length of the fuselage to the tail rotor, with a predominantly white lower fuselage and dark blue hull, as seen in this 1974 photograph at SFO.