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Erickson helicopter was for South Korean firefighters

Last week a massive commercial aircraft touched down at the Medford airport, causing a stir. In an earlier Since You Asked column, we learned from an Erickson executive that the big plane was in Southern Oregon to deliver a helicopter built in Central Point to an overseas customer. We’ve since learned more about the aircraft that was inside the Russian built Antonov AN124.

On Nov. 20, the massive cargo plane loaded up an Erickson K7 S-64 Air Crane helicopter intended for the Korean Forest Service, according to a release issued by Erickson earlier this week.

The Korean Forest Service has nearly two decades of experience with the Central Point-built aircraft, according to the release. The wildfire agency was the first foreign government to buy helicopters from Erickson.

KFS ordered its first S-64 from Erickson in 2001, and according to the Erickson news release, the helicopters have garnered a reputation in South Korea “for being the best firefighting aircraft available.”

Erickson acquired the patent rights to the S-64 Sky Crane in the 1990s, and in the ensuing decades has made continuous improvements to the helicopter’s frame and capabilities.

The K7 incorporates Erickson’s latest modifications to a helicopter first designed by Sikorsky Aircraft in the 1960s, including composite-made rotor blades and revised glass cockpit.

The number of Erickson helicopters currently in KFS’ fleet wasn’t immediately available Tuesday afternoon, but in 2017, KFS had a fleet of three Erickson helicopters, and in January 2018, Erickson announced an order for two more of the versatile helicopters to be filled by the end of 2019. The orders for the two aircraft were valued at $50 million.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

Erickson released this photo of its new{ } K7 S-64 Air Crane helicopter delivered to the Korean Forest Service earlier this month. Submitted photo.