The Erickson S-64 Aircrane is a twin-engine heavy-lift helicopter that can carry an external load of up to 25,000 pounds at sea level. It is also the first helicopter to be built that gives the pilot an unobstructed view of the load being carried.
The S-64 Aircrane, formerly known as the S-64 Skycrane, was originally manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft in 1962, but its production rights were bought over by the Erickson Air-Crane company 30 years later. Erickson has made over 1,350 modifications to the helicopter since 1992. The S-64 initially gained worldwide fame during the Vietnam War after its U.S. Army model — the CH-54A “Tarhe” — was used to retrieve damaged aircraft and helicopters. In all, 380 damaged aircraft were retrieved, saving the military an estimated $240 million.
Since entering the civil aviation market in 1969, the aircraft has been involved in the construction of some of the world’s most famous landmarks. In 1975, it was used to lift the top section of the CN tower in Toronto — the world’s tallest free-standing tower at the time. In 1993, the Aircrane was contracted to remove and replace the “Statue of Freedom,” which sits on top of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. The Aircrane has also played a key role in the energy sector globally. Since 1971, the aircraft has been used to construct over 8,000 miles of electrical transmission towers across North America.