With $2,000 and his invention of the servo-flap controlled rotor, 26-year-old Charles H. Kaman founds Kaman Aircraft Corporation on December 12, 1945. The company is equipped with his ideas about rotary-wing aircraft and $5,000 worth of laboratory rigs and hardware.
History of Innovation
The K-125, Kaman's first helicopter, takes flight, meeting an investor's January 15, 1947, deadline. The Kaman team works seven-day weeks to meet this milestone. They successfully get the intermeshed contrarotating twin rotor design in the air in time to secure $64,000 of additional funds.
K-225 - An improved version of the K-125 debuts. The U.S. Navy buys two and the Coast Guard buys one for $25,000 each. These orders turn the tide and put Kaman firmly in business. Later, the helicopter receives the H-22 designation.
The historic flight ushers in a transition of helicopter power from reciprocating to gas turbine engines. The Kaman K-225 becomes the first helicopter in the world to fly powered by a gas turbine engine, the Boeing B502-2. This aircraft is now part of the Smithsonian's collection.
Ordered for the U.S. Marine Corps, the HOK-1 first flies; the Air Force version was the H-43A Huskie. Kaman Aircraft Corporation ultimately produced 340 H-43’s in various variants.
A modified Kaman HTK-1, equipped with two Boeing 502-2 engines, becomes the world's first twin-turbine powered helicopter.
Kaman diversifies as an aerospace subcontractor producing parts for the McDonnell F-101, Grumman aircraft, and others.
The world's first remotely controlled helicopter leaves the ground. The modified HTK-1 builds on the hands-off flying already possible with the HTK. A broadcast of the drone helicopter flight on the "You Asked for It" television program captures public imagination.
Kaman would manufacture more than 240 of these helicopters, later known as the UH-2A Seasprite, over the next four decades. The helicopters would perform rescue duty for the Navy.
Kaman develops and flies the first helicopter with an all-composite main rotor blade.
The UH2A aircraft has more than twice the range, speed, and payload of the helicopter that it replaces. It can make rescues and perform previously impossible operations.
The KAflex coupling will prove to be a major product for the company. Because it can stand high loads, needs no lubrication, and is lightweight, it has the potential to replace a large portion of the aircraft and other power transmission couplings and shafts in use.
The HH-43B is recognized as having the best safety record of any helicopter ever in the military service. It also set numerous records for performance and endurance, including altitude and rate-of-climb records.
Kaman invents the KAcarb self lubricated airframe bearing and launches what would become Kamatics Corporation. Kamatics self-lubricated bearings are now widely used throughout the Aerospace industry.
Charles Kaman, using composite technology and vibration, invents the Ovation guitar, beginning the Kaman Music Corporation. The popular round-backed guitar allows musicians to amplify their sound without generating the feedback that often comes from using microphones.
A Kaman UH-2 with a J-85 jet engine and wings from a Beechcraft Queen Air can achieve airspeeds of more than 200 mph.
In an effort to diversify, Kaman initiates what would eventually become Kaman Distribution when it acquires Reliable Bearing and Supply Co. of San Bernardino, CA and Western Bearings Inc. of Salt Lake City, UT. This marks the beginning of the more than $1 billion in sales distribution business.
SH-2F Seasprite - The LAMPS (Light Airborne Multipurpose System) Mk I enters U.S. Navy service. It can achieve maximum speeds of 149 mph and has a range of 410 miles.
The KAron® bearing liner system has been proven effective in the most demanding aviation, marine, and industrial applications.
Kaman designs and begins manufacturing the K-747 blade, the world's first production all-composite rotor blade for the Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopter. Total production exceeds 5,000 blades.
SH-2G Seasprite - the new version of the Seasprite, with new avionics, mission electronics and GE T-700 engines, enters U.S. Navy service.
The K-MAX "Aerial Truck", the world's first helicopter specifically designed, tested and certified for repetitive external lift operations, receives FAA certification in record time. K-MAX incorporates features specifically designed for the lowest operating costs, highest level of safety and reliability, and overall economic viability for medium to heavy lift applications.
U.S. Air Force authorizes Kaman Dayron to begin production of the advanced FMU-152A/B Joint Programmable Fuze, considered the fuze of choice for the future. The JPF allows pilots to reprogram the fuze in flight if the tactical situation on the ground changes.
Team K-MAX successfully demonstrates unmanned helicopter cargo resupply to USMC, which shows the feasibility of supplying ground troops with an unmanned version of the K-MAX "aerial truck."
Lockheed/Kaman Team K-MAX awarded NAVAIR contract for demonstration of unmanned K-MAX in Afghanistan for the U.S. Marine Corps.
In less than four months, beginning in December 2011, the K-MAX helicopter delivers over one million pounds of cargo to forward combat areas in support of the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan.
KFL-DM, a thin polymer-based coating that lowers friction, reduces fretting wear, and extends service life in dynamic or high-vibration, static applications.
KBE, combining the capabilities of computer aided engineering tools for design, analysis, test and automated reports, creates significant cost and schedule savings for composite helicopter rotor development.
Major acquisitions and customer focus prompt organizing under three categories: Bearings and Power Transmission, Fluid Power, and Electrical Automation and Control.