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Pilatus Air Service

In 1954 the company Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon-Bührle Co purchased the Hiller UH-12B HB-XAC with the intention to use it for the transportation of personnel and equipment to the mountain shooting range of Ochsenboden where the armaments produced by the Contraves (another firn of the German industrialist Emil Georg Bührle) were tested. 
Contemporary the HB-XAC was used for SAR missions and exercises by the Swiss Life-Saving Society (SLSS) or rented by Air Import for commercial flights. However the experience showed that this helicopter was inadequate to respond to the needs of its owner. For these reason it was sold to the Swiss Army in February 1956. The latter used the helicopter primarily for the training of the military pilots.

<p>Almost at the same time Pilatus Aircraft Ltd, which was founded in 1939 and had among its founders Bührle, purchased the Agusta-Bell 47G2 HB-XAP. When it was not in service for the firns of the holding the helicopter (the first of this version to be imported in Switzerland) was rented for the commercial transportation of people and goods. Sometimes it was also used for aerial patrol flights by the police. It was usually piloted by Oswald Matti and was based at the airport of Zürich where the Pilatus had its hangar.<br /> The well known Swiss pilot Sepp Bauer (a helicopter pioneer who moved to Germany in 1955) rented several times the HB-XAP for the transportation of building materials. Moreover he used this helicopter to complete the training of his friend Hermann Geiger, the famous glaciers pilot. The latter at the beginning was trained in France by the Fenwick Aviation company. He then did an arrangement with Pilatus Air Service and between February and March 1957 he completed the transition course.

The following year the HB-XAP was rented by the German company Deutscher Helikopter Dienst (DHD) based in Rietdorf near Koblenz which trained military pilots on behalf of the Bundeswehr. On November 19, 1958 after an autorotation exercise the helicopter landed heavily and was seriously damaged. Neither the student nor the instructor were injured but after the hard landing the helicopter caught immediately fire and got completely destroyed.
After the lost of this aircraft the Pilatus Air Service ceased its flying activities with helicopters.

HAB 12/2009