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History of the 269 helicopter

The Prototype 269

The 269 series helicopter was first developed in 1955 by the Aircraft division of the Hughes Tool Company, lead by the famous Howard Hughes. The first of two prototypes’ (Registration’s N78P) was first flown by Gale Moore at the Hughes Airport in Culver City on 2nd October 1956. These first versions had an open triangular truss type tailboom, a straight landing gear skid tube and seating for two occupants in a side to side configuration.

The 269A

In 1958 five prototype machines were ordered by the US Army for evaluation and were given the designation YHO-2-HU. At this stage the prototype 269 was further developed to include a modified stabilizer, an engine power increase and the open tailboom was replaced with a tubular boom structure. The landing gear skid tubes were modified to curve up at the front end and ground handling wheels could be fitted. This modified version was granted FAA type approval in April 1959 and the first 269A delivered in 1961.

The TH-55A Osage

1964 saw the US Army choose to use the 269 as their primary training helicopter under the military designation, the TH-55A ‘Osage’. Over the next few years many hundreds of TH-55A trainers would be used to develop the skills of US Army pilots. Deliveries totalled nearly 800 by 1969 when the TH-55A stopped production. More than 60,000 US Army helicopter pilots learnt to fly on this type.

The 269A-1 (The Hughes 200)

In 1961 the 269A was further developed into the 269A-1 incorporating longer main rotor blades.

The 269B (The Hughes 300)

Further development gave rise to the 269B with the main changes being a wider cabin, an altered instrument panel design and the introduction of the optional role change from a dual control, two seat trainer configuration to a single set of controls with a three seat configuration more suitable for the private owner. This option required that the pilot seat to be moved from the right hand side of the cockpit to the left which then allowed the central collective to be removed and replaced with a third seat.

The 269C (The Hughes 300C)

In 1970 the 269C was introduced with a 190HP engine and longer main rotor blades which allowed a significant increase in payload, increase in VNE and increased service ceiling.

In 1983 the Schweizer Aircraft Company bought the 300C production rights and the Hughes 300C became the Schweizer S300C.

In August 2004 Sikorsky Global Helicopters acquired Schweizer Aircraft Company and in February 2009 the 300C became the Sikorsky S-300C.

The 269C-1 (300CB and 300CBi)

In 1995 Schweizer started producing the 300CB which targeted the training market with its derated engine (derated from 190 to 180HP) allowing for longer intervals between engine overhauls and improved fuel consumption. It also featured a standard single fuel tank and a two seat, dual control configuration. The 300CB had a carburettor with carb heat.

2002 saw the introduction of the 300CBi with a fuel injected version of the 300CB that removed the risk of carburettor icing. The 300CBi also features the STAR system that allows overspeed protection, automatic rotor engagement system and a low rotor warning system.

Over 100,000 students have learnt to fly in the variants of the 269 helicopters mentioned above.