December 28 - Columbia Helicopters' founder and chairman of the Board, Wes Lematta, has died.

Mr Lematta pioneered the concept of commericial heavy lift helicopter operations, developing techniques and processes that are industry standards to this day

He provided significant contributions to the helicopter industry as a whole, as well as within the state of Oregon. He also leaves behind significant philanthropic contributions throughout Oregon and Washington.

Wes Lematta began Columbia Helicopters in 1957 with a single, small helicopter with which he sold rides at county fairs and from corner lots on weekends.

Throughout 52 years of business, his pioneering vision and innate business sense helped him to build his company to where, today, Columbia Helicopters is a world leader in commercial heavy lift helicopter operations.

Initially, his company was run by Wes and his brothers, and currently employs over 600 people worldwide.

Details for a memorial service will be announced shortly.