Jackson County Helicopter Company Has Worldwide Following

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Marianna- The Safari helicopter made its world debut in 1953, manufactured by a Canada-based company.

It was the first of its kind and throughout the years has garnered attention from hundreds of people across the globe.

"There's a lot of interest from China, a lot of interest from South Africa. We have a very prolific dealer in New Zealand," said Delane Baker, owner of CHR International, current Safari manufacturer.

With support from Jackson County, the original company moved to Marianna's Industrial Park back in 2001. Eight years later, Delane and Bobby Baker took over operations.

"One of the principles who did own the rights to the helicopter began flying in up at our airstrip and my husband became addicted to helicopters," said Delane Baker.

Baker said one of the reasons the experimental chopper is so popular is because you can take it pretty much anywhere.

"You don't need to go into Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, you can just land in somebody's backyard," said Baker.

The price tag, though, isn't cheap. A fully assembled chopper will set you back $185,000, but if you want to put it together yourself, you can buy the kit and save about $30,000.

Baker said that's nothing compared to what some commercial aircraft go for these days.

"You're into many millions of dollars," said Baker.

Later this week, the Bakers will deliver a chopper kit to a client in North Dakota, adding to their more than 200 customers worldwide.

These experimental helicopters face the same safety guidelines and flying regulations as their commercial counterparts, and anyone interested needs a pilot's license before taking off.



 
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