To dream the impossible dream, Part 2

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A Doman LZ-5, the one and only example of this type of helicopter made in Canada to be more precise, during a test flight. Jacques Gambu, « Le premier hélicoptère à pales encastrées: Doman LZ-5. » Aviation Magazine, 19 January 1956, 17.

Hello again, my reading friend. Let us pick up the thread of our story without further ado. Glidden Sweet “Glid” Doman was born in January 1921. As a teenager, this American built go-karts and soap box racers. Doman took part in many races. In 1943, this young aeronautical engineer joined the staff of the Sikorsky Division of United Aircraft Corporation, a giant of the American aircraft industry. He contributed to the development of the Sikorsky R-4, the world’s first series produced helicopter and a type present in the collection of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum of Ottawa, Ontario. Stored since its acquisition in 1983, the incomplete example of the museum has no Canadian history or importance. Would I dare to suggest that this R-4 is a good candidate for deaccession? Yes, I would, but let’s get back to our story.

Fascinated by helicopters, Doman may have founded Doman Helicopter Company in August 1945. He subsequently developed the rigid rotor mentioned in the first part of this article. Doman designed his first helicopter in 1946. Nicknamed “Little Zipper” by a person involved in the project, this machine became the LZ-1. This designation style appealed so much to Doman that he used it on most of the helicopters he developed over the years. Nonetheless, the LZ-1 did not proceed beyond the drafting stage.

Doman and his employees later installed a rigid rotor on a Sikorsky R-6 helicopter acquired from the United States Army Air Forces, today’s United States Air Force (USAF). This LZ-1A proof of concept prototype flew in August 1947. The construction of this machine resulted in the formation of Doman-Frasier Helicopters, Incorporated. Even before the end of the year, this company gave way to Doman Helicopters, Incorporated. The latter began designing an 8-seat machine to meet the requirements of a USAF competition for a search and rescue helicopter usable in the Arctic.

This LZ-4 attracted the attention of a tired giant of the American aircraft industry. Hoping to diversify its production and aware of the growing popularity of the helicopter, Curtiss-Wright Corporation purchased the production of the LZ-4. Better yet, the company built a prototype, known as the CW-40, which flew in November 1950. In the end, the USAF ordered another helicopter, in 1952, the Piasecki H-21 Workhorse / Shawnee, a descendant of the HRP Rescuer, or “flying banana,” mentioned in an October issue of this blog / bulletin / thingee. Curtiss-Wright soon gave up its production license. The LZ-4 / CW-40 did not proceed beyond the prototype stage.

It should be noted that the Royal Canadian Air Force was one of the customers of Piasecki Helicopter Corporation. Indeed, this service received 20 tandem rotor helicopters made by this company starting in September 1954.

Generally satisfied with the LZ-4 concept, Doman developed a slightly bigger and more powerful 8-seat helicopter, the LZ-5, sometimes referred to as the Air Taxi and mentioned in the first part of this article. Recognizing that this prototype apparently interested some United States Army officers, Hiller Helicopters (Incorporated?) bought the production rights in September 1953. Months, then years went by without any production orders. Only three LZ-5s were made, including the one built in Canada and 2 for the Unitd States Army.

Yours truly must admit that he has more material on hand. I’m afraid that you will have to come back to this website to get the full story behind the history of the Doman helicopters. I must admit to talking (typing?) a lot about helicopters in this blog / bulletin / thingee. I am the first surprised because “egg beaters” usually do not interest me all that much.

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Rénald Fortier