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Kiowa Warriors Break Record for Largest Helicopter Formation


On April 15, 2016, 32 Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors took off in formation from Fort Bragg, setting a Guinness World Record for the Largest Helicopter Formation Flight ever. The event was organized by the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade of the US Army. It marked the grand finale for the U.S. military fleet, serving as a spectacular swansong for the platform and those who flew in it.



The OH-58A Kiowa Warrior aircraft was first introduced in 1968 and quickly gained a reputation for its ruggedness and effectiveness. It underwent two rounds of modifications and upgrades over the years, culminating in the OH-58D model, which set a world record in 1983. This single-engine, four-bladed armed reconnaissance helicopter was equipped with an upgraded engine and transmission and was the first U.S. Army helicopter to feature an all-glass cockpit and a Wire Strike Protection System (WSPS). The WSPS was specifically designed to prevent wire and power line strikes during low-flying missions, and it proved so successful that it was subsequently adapted to virtually every other helicopter in the U.S. fleet.



There were around 2,325 Kiowa Warriors produced up until the delivery of the final new-build platform to the U.S. Army in 1989, with the last of them being retired from active service in the US in 2020.



Bell continues the legacy of the Warrior helicopter through the Bell 407M, which is the first of many of Bell's Special Missions aircraft that are developed from their highly-regarded commercial platforms but with enhanced multi-mission capabilities. The 407 can be reconfigured in just 30 minutes and is considered the world's most cost-effective, multi-role helicopter. It has built its reputation on the proven features of the OH-58 and has an impressive 2 million flight hours, with over 750,000 of those being flown in combat. The Bell 407 offers a wide range of capabilities from public safety, HEMS, and utility to armed multirole, including light attack, special ops, reconnaissance, command and control, and anti-piracy. This helicopter is already well-known globally, having accumulated over six million flight hours in its commercial configuration from its 1,100-strong fleet.



The "M" series goes beyond impressive mission versatility. It has low sustainment costs and readily available parts that can be interchanged with other Bell platforms. All of these features help to keep the platform in the air for as long as possible and get it back up quickly.



With a highly reputable lineage, the Bell 407M and other SMA models are in a prime position to cater to the demands of Bell's customers worldwide, as this latest fleet of aircraft prepares to soar through the skies. Undoubtedly, we can expect numerous world records to be broken by these exceptional aircraft soon.

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