Edwin Jones Montgomery, Sr.

Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame
Enshrined 2011

Edwin Montgomery, Sr. was born in Tucson Arizona on December 23, 1912. Growing up in Tucson, he graduated from Tucson High School and received degrees in Engineering and Education from the University of Arizona in 1934 and 1936. He taught mathematics at several schools in Arizona including the University Of Arizona.

After brief service in the Army, he moved to California to work as an aeronautical engineer during World War II. In 1945 he returned to Tucson and founded Southern Arizona Airlines and its subsidiary, Arizona Helicopter Service, This was the First commercial helicopter business in the world and commenced operation on November 29, 1946, with a Bell 47D helicopter. Arizona Helicopter Service provided charter services over a wide area both within and outside of Arizona. In 1950 the business moved to Tusayan, Arizona near the Grand Canyon and focused on providing aerial tours of the canyon.

In addition, Montgomery’s helicopters proved to be very effective at search and rescue within the canyon. Later in 1950, he returned to aeronautical engineering for the rest of his working life. He was recognized in 1976 by the Helicopter Association of America as the first commercial helicopter operator in the United States.

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