Helicopters Magazine

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Richard Purser: Columnist

This year Helicopters celebrates a quarter century of continuous publication.


July 11, 2007
By Richard Purser

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This year Helicopters celebrates a quarter century of continuous
publication. Its first issue appeared in 1980 as a spinoff from what
was then and still is its sister publication, Wings. The founding
publisher of Helicopters, Irish-born Calgary entrepreneur Paul J.
Skinner, bought Wings in 1976. By 1980, Skinner decided that the
helicopter sector had developed to the point where a dedicated magazine
could better serve a group of readers and advertisers not fully served
by a primarily fixed-wing publication.

Skinner
retired in 2001, after selling both Helicopters and Wings to its
current publisher, Annex. I have been asked to do this editorial
because correspondent Gary Watson and myself are the only two
Calgary-based names left on the masthead.

As Skinner told
readers of the premier issue of what was first called Helicopters in
Canada, he had long felt “that the Canadian helicopter industry needs a
magazine tailored to its unique operations and readership.”

It
still does. A general aviation magazine does not, even with the best of
will, cater to the rotary-wing aviation world because the many
differences between fixed-wing and rotarywing do not combine well
within the pages of a single publication. And even the best helicopter
magazines with either an international or North American focus will
tend to treat Canada as a region despite the size of its fleet.

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The
cover story in the first issue of Helicopters in Canada was a flight
report on the new AS 350D AStar. Indicative of the dynamic nature of
the industry – in which operators are constantly coming and going, or
being bought and sold – that neither the company whose helicopter
provided the cover photo, Liftair International, nor the two operators
profiled in the same issue, Toronto Helicopters Ltd. and Shirley
Helicopters Ltd. are around today. It should be noted, however, that
the AStar is still going strong.

Among the writers in that first
issue was Robert J. Carnie, whose subject was flight safety. Carnie
wrote in his first article, “Why is it that the Canadian helicopter
accident rate is so much higher than that of our neighbours across the
border?” He continued in that fighting mode until he retired as flight
safety editor in 1998. Funny, when he attacked the safety practices of
some operators, others felt he was attacking all of them.

In its
second year of publication Helicopters in Canada introduced its annual
directory of helicopter operators. Again, indicative of the industry’s
dynamics, only 41 of the 212 operators listed in that first directory
were still represented 18 years later, in the last directory issue of
the 20th century.

Helicopters in Canada became Helicopters
Canada in 1982 and simply Helicopters in 1983. Mike Reyno edited the
magazine during the transition from Skinner’s Corvus to Annex. Reyno
left in 2002. David Carr, his successor departs after this issue,
although he will continue writing. Like the AStar, I keep going and
look forward to marking the next major anniversary.


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