To dream the impossible dream, Part 1

Loading an engine aboard the Canadian-made Doman LZ-5 during a demonstration tour in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, in 1957. Anon., « Doman LZ-5 gets oil field check-out. » Aviation Week, 4 November 1957, 111.

An interesting helicopter production project in Canada began in 1953. At that time, the management of Fleet Manufacturing Limited was looking for products that it could produce for years to come. The Fort Erie, Ontario, company, formerly known as Fleet Aircraft Limited, wanted to partner with an American business with a product to sell because its resources did not allow it to design any complex item. The growing importance of the helicopter in Canada, both for civilian and military roles, caught the eye of Fleet Manufacturing. It contacted several American helicopter manufacturers and chose a small company, Doman Helicopters, Incorporated, which had developed a rigid rotor that raised a lot of interest. The blades of such a rotor being firmly fixed to the hub, it was far less complex than a conventional rotor.

Fleet Manufacturing and Doman Helicopters formed Doman-Fleet Helicopters Limited in the spring of 1954. This company held the Canadian and Commonwealth production of the LZ-5. This 8-seat helicopter tested in April 1953 is similar in appearance and configuration to the Sikorsky S-55, an excellent helicopter present in the equally excellent collection of the Ottawa, Ontario-based Canada Aviation and Space Museum in the form of a Royal Canadian Navy Sikorsky HO4S, but back to our story. The number of American-made components present in the LZ-s made in Canada, by Fleet Manufacturing, very large at the beginning, would diminish over time. A Canadian prototype flew in June 1955. It was the largest helicopter made in Canada until then. Despite many demonstration flights, no one came to sign a contract. Fleet Manufacturing suspended the project in the spring of 1957 and handed its LZ-5 to Doman Helicopters later in the year.

How does the story of the LZ-5 and Doman Helicopters end, you ask? A good question. Revisit this website in a week or so and you will find an answer.

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Rénald Fortier