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Fort Worth Flashback: Bell has been manufacturing Kiowa copters here for nearly 50 years

Posted Jan. 30, 2012

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The Bell OH-58 Kiowa is a family of single-engine, single-rotor military helicopters used for observation, troop transport and direct fire support.

In the 46 years since Bell Helicopter Textron’s OH-58 Kiowa helicopter took its first flight, the Fort Worth-manufactured aircraft has flown more combat missions than any other, with more than 600,000 missions.

In July of 1935, Larry Bell founded Bell Aircraft Corp. in Buffalo, N.Y., to develop fighter aircraft. In 1951, Bell moved to Hurst with the help of Amon Carter Sr. and other local business promoters.

Through the years, several notable aircraft in addition to the Kiowa were built here, including the Bell Model 47, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra and, most recently, the V-22 Osprey.

Late last year, the City Council approved a tax abatement for the expansion of Bell Helicopter Textron’s headquarters that will ensure that the company remains in Fort Worth for the long term. Bell plans to spend $235 million to consolidate facilities at its east Fort Worth complex. In addition, Bell committed to keeping 4,500 employees in Fort Worth through 2020.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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