Aircraft Type


The S-51 was an early postwar development of the R-5. Although intended for the civilian market, most S-51s went into military service. They served with all the US military services as well as with the air forces of Australia, Britain, and Canada. The seven RCAF S-51s were designated H-5. As the first helicopters in the RCAF, they were used mainly for training and experimentation. The S-51 was the first helicopter to open and operate from Cold Lake performing search and rescue missions. All H-5s were retired by the mid-1960s. The United States built 214, and 165 were made in Britain.

For rescue operations the H-5 could be fitted with external closed stretcher carriers. The US Air Force used S-51s extensively for casualty evacuation and the recovery of downed pilots during the Korean War.


Our S-51 (OU-9607) served at one time with the joint Air Training School in Rivers, Manitoba. It was acquired by our predecessor, the Air Museum of Canada, in 1960s and then by the City of Calgary. The aircraft is painted yellow, to enable other aircraft and crashed pilots to see it in its rescue role.


  • The external cable and winch is for search and rescue.
  • You can see the type in action in the great movie “The Bridges at Toko-ri” based on the book by James Michener and starring William Holden, Grace Kelly and Mickey Rooney as the helicopter pilot.


  • Rotor diameter of 14.9 metres (49ft)
  • Height of 3.9 metres (12ft 11in)
  • Length of 17.6 metres (57ft 8in)
  • Maximum speed of 166 km/h (103 mph)
  • Rate of climb of 1000 ft/min