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Buffalo’s Impact on Aircraft Industry – Dale’s Daily Data

A Bell Aircraft helicopter produced at Bell's Wheatfield plant comes in for a landing in New York City (Getty Images)

There was that helicopter tragedy in New York City the other day and when one of them crashes we always hear about it, but the helicopter is such a dependable form of transportation especially in large cities like New
York where traffic can tie you up for hours.  For those who need to move from one place to another quickly – the helicopter is perfect.

History shows Leonardo Da Vinci was the first to experiment with the idea for a helicopter in the mid 1500’s.

Russian-born Igor Sikorsky developed the first successful helicopter and almost all modern helicopter are based on his design.  He was working on them as early as 1910 and by 1940 Sikorsky helicopters were able to go forward and backward, up and down and sideways.

Western New York was one of the world-leaders in aircraft design and development especially during World
War Two.  Bell Aircraft began in Buffalo and moved into a huge plant on Niagara Falls Blvd. in Wheatfield and during the war that plant employed 36,000 workers.  That plant produced nearly 10,000 P-39’s – the main fighter plane the U-S began the war with.

That plant also produced the first helicopter with a full glass bubble canopy.

Another Bell plant – on Main and Rodney in Buffalo that later became a Trico plant – produced the world’s first jet aircraft.  It was so top-secret that when it was transported on a rail car they put a fake propeller on it as a disguise.

Bell Aircraft also produced rocket powered planes including the X-1 flown by Chuck Yaeger.

That company might still be operating in this area, but the high cost of doing business in New York State forced the company to move to Texas in the 1960’s.  All those jobs and New York State allowed them to leave.
SOURCE: History of Buffalo/Bell Aircraft, about.com

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