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The KTLA Telecopter was the world's first television news helicopter, which first went into operation in 1958.[1] The on-board video and audio equipment communicated with a line of sight KTLA transmitter receiver on top of Mount Wilson. The first helicopter was leased to KTLA by National Helicopter Service and Engineering Company in Van Nuys.[2] For several years, KTLA (channel 5) was the only TV station with a helicopter based TV camera crewed reporting platform.

The Telecopter was designed and introduced by KTLA chief engineer John D. Silva (1920-2012).[3]


The first three Telecopters were as follows:

Version Year Helicopter Notes
1 1958 Bell 47G-2 Equipment mounted externally
2 1959 Bell 47J-2 Ranger Equipment mounted internally
3 1969 Bell 206 JetRanger


  1. ^ Joiner, Stephen (May 2009). "History of Flight: Zoom Shot". Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved February 29, 2012. One day in L.A., a helicopter changed television news forever 
  2. ^ "Original press releases issued by KTLA regarding the creation of the "TELECOPTER"". National Helicopter Service and Engineering Company. 1958. Retrieved 2012-02-25. Photos taken during its construction in Dick Hart's backyard in North Hollywood 
  3. ^ "John D. Silva dies at 92; introduced news helicopter", Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2012