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Helicopters (1965) Ltd.
C-GHOO, Transwest Hughes, 500C
John Francis "Jack" McMahon
established Transwest Helicopters (1965) Ltd. in BC in 1965.
From Jack's autobiography,
In 1964 he bought the controlling interests
of an inactive Calgary Aviation company,
and with the other shareholders input,
he moved the business to the West Coast,
keeping the name Transwest Helicopters
because of the advertising value.
It started at Vancouver International Airport
as a one man, one aircraft company.
Jack was 50 when he started the Company from the ground up.
1968 he had 11 helicopters, owning 6 and chartering 5.
In 1969 he selected the new location in Burnaby.
He thought the future was in rotary aircraft.
At the airport he was located next to Okanagan Helicopters
and his friend Carl Agar, owner of Okanagan,
was his instructor in WWII.
All of these fellows flew or knew each other during the war.
took the company over around 1985,
and had it until his death around 2001. (see article below)
Transwest was sold by Tim McAvoy's wife to a European buyer,
and is still in operation at the Chilliwack airport."
Info and Pictures below,
J. "Denny" McMahon, Jack's son
sent to me Apr 2012, and finally got around to scanning them
Jan 2013, with apologises to Denis for the delay.
Helicopters (1965) Ltd.
built a new hangar at
2792 Norland, Burnaby, BC
Newspaper article, and Artists view, ca Feb 16, 1970,
They moved from Vancouver International Airport
to the new 1 1/2 acre site in Burnaby.
9 helicopters at this time.
Staff of 22
He picked this location to service the needs of Burnaby
Industrial Complexes, as well as Metropolitan and Intercity Services.
Landing pad, 6,000 sq ft tarmac area,
5,000 sq ft Hangar, and office area.
1970 Transwest had a staff of 22, fleet of 16 helicopters,
and an estimated value of $900,000.00
Front of Hangar in Burnaby
Jack McMahon at his desk, at the new hangar, ca 1970
Aerial View of the New Hangar
Standard Oil ad on construction of new hangar
Transwest was involved in Constructing Transmission
Logging, Spraying, Fire fighting,and were involved with the
Federal Dept of Energy, Mines and Resources,
and the BC Forest Service
In the early 1980's per Jack's bio, he established
the firm at Pitt Meadows. It was about that time
he ran into difficulties with the Air Transport Commission.
Sounds like the same story of Spillsbury's airline!
He faced 36 charges of Licensing infractions,
due to some technical language in the license.
None of these were safety infractions.
It was due to these charges he had to give up the Company.
"My Company (Transwest) was
and shares were made available to key employees
as they joined the firm under terms of an agreement
with the original shareholders of what was once
a Calgary based operation."
"Although the Company's main
base was Vancouver,
it had many designated points from which service could be obtained,
together with a second base at Bella Coola, with Sandy James
in charge. Permanent year round facilities were maintained at this base."
ca 2015 the new headquarters is at Oliver BC
Article above, and
pictures, from Jack's Autobiography
with Service area, and Company Base map,
Hangar address and map
plus descriptions and cost of 3 machines
they used at that time.
3- Hughes 500,
3- Hiller UH-12E,
8- Bell 47G
Jack McMahon sold the business to Tim McEvoy
who suffered a fatal crash July 18, 2001
Article above describes the accident in a fixed wing aircraft.
from Jack's autobiography
Fred Young- Pilot, see photo above
Jim Collins- Pilot- born in CA, died age 36, with
fighting a Forest fire at Gull Lake, north of Thunder Bay ON
Gene Drader- involved in a 1983 Hughes 500 crash,
while helicopter logging in the Seymour watershed.
But he survived
Dave Zall, Pilot
Jeff McClure, Pilot
Paul Jahnke- drove fuel truck and acted as Zall's Co-Pilot.
Garry Paquette- Maintenance Engineer, trained as a pilot
Jim Neill- Pilot
Robert Hansen- Pilot- involved in a crash of a
Transwest Bell Jet Ranger, near Port Hardy airport, Jan 1983.
The machine was valued at $285,000.00
He survived 2 accidents from sling problems in Cedar block lifting
Leslie Neill- hired as an Engineer,
served apprenticeship, became the first Pilot Engineer.
My Transwest Helicopters Hat Badge, ca 1978
One of Transwest's Helicopters Hughes 500
flew into the BC Tel Meziadin radio site,
from their base in Prince George,
under terrible cloud and fog conditions,
and rescued myself, and another employee,
when all the bridges and roads were flooded out,
east of Terrace in 1978. All local helicopters were busy at the time.
Transwest Hughes 500, ca Sept 1978,
landing at BC Tel, Keith Ave. Terrace BC
2 photos courtesy Brian Wolfe, Ladysmith BC