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Our History


Brainerd Helicopters, Inc. was founded in 1973 by Chuck Brainerd, an Army trained Aviator who is a Veteran of the Vietnam War. Upon his return, Chuck transitioned his skills to work in the commercial industry and began a storied and distinguished career.


In 1987 Brainerd Helicopters operated S58Ts and began assisting in fire suppression for the USFS (United States Forest Service) and OAS (Department of the Interior Office of Aircraft Services). The company progressed to the S70C in 1995. Brainerd Helicopters was the first commercial company to obtain and operate the Sikorsky Blackhawk and established the company and the aircraft under Firehawk Helicopters. In 1999 Brainerd Helicopters diversified their fleet with the addition of a Eurocpter SA-319 Alouette III. It operated the Alouette III until 2003 and transitioned into Eurcopter AS350 B3s with its class leading and unmatched performance.


2001 brought the addition of a second S-70C and it was also repurposed for the task of Wildland firefighting. In 2005 Brainerd/Firehawk Helicopters partnered with Brown Helicopters, one of the industries leading parts suppliers, to operate and maintain their 3 recently acquired Black Hawks. Firehawk participated in the rescue, relief, fire suppression and restoration efforts during and post Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA. Initially Firehawk was hired to rescue stranded patients and staff of Tulane University Hospital. Firehawk continued to aid by providing aerial fire fighting support to the New Orleans Fire Department for the next 12 months.


In addition Brainerd Helicopters, Inc. has participated in Research and Development activities for major defense contractors participating in such important programs as the AH-64 Apache’s TADS/PVNS sensor suite’s development with Martin Marrietta (now Lockheed Martin) and the LANTIRN pod used on the F-16 and F-15. In 1984 it flew the first Heart Balloon Pump used in an aerial application in the US with its innovative use of an Sikorsky S-58T for EMS Helicopter based transport.


Currently Firehawk operates a fleet of 7 Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawks and 4 Eurocopter AS-350B3’s in support of Wildland Fire Fighting and other commercial endeavors.