company history

Founded in 1980 by Vietnam veteran Brian McMahon, McMahon Helicopter Services, Inc., began with one leased Bell 206B helicopter. Brian was a man known for getting things done. His strong work ethic and his drive to put the customer's needs first helped grow the business consistently over the next 20-year period.

Thanks to Brian, McMahon Helicopter became a company rich with innovation. McMahon began providing niche services to the automotive, energy and motion picture and television industries –eventually growing the helicopter charter fleet to eight aircraft. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of how technology can improve business was when Brian McMahon purchased one of the first Motorola "brick" cellular telephones for $4,000 in 1984. According to Brian, "I doubled my business nearly overnight" thanks to his new found ability to "instantly respond" to customer calls and provide a level of communication that others could not. The brick phone quickly became a standard issue piece of equipment to all pilots at McMahon. 

In addition to his helicopter business, Brian McMahon co-founded and financed a separate entity, Aerial Films, Inc., in the mid-1980's. Aerial Films provided aerial film production services to the motion picture and television industry. The company eventually went on to pioneer and manufacture gyro-stabilized camera systems known as the "Gyrocam" and other revolutionary camera isolation mounts, which were specifically designed for helicopters –as no comparable systems existed at the time. This new technology changed the way the television news industry captured breaking news stories from the air. Aerial Films later became Gyrocam Systems LLC and a division of Lockheed Martin. McMahon Helicopter Services has no affiliation with any entities named above.

In 2006, McMahon diversified its charter business and began offering maintenance, repair and overhaul services (MRO) to customers who owned and operated helicopters. In 2008, McMahon became a Robinson Helicopter Company factory authorized dealer and service center. The repair station part of the business has since expanded and regularly services over 20 regional aircraft (in addition to McMahon's own fleet).  

Brian McMahon pictured in New York in the early 1990's with a Bell 206B and his patented Super Nose Mount designed specifically for the Wescam camera system.


Three of McMahon's Sikorsky S-58T cargo aircraft pictured over downtown Detroit in 2001.


A Robinson R66 goes through inspection at McMahon's 10,000 sq. ft. maintenance facility.

In early February of 2014, Brian McMahon unexpectedly passed away from heart complications at the young age of 63. In his career, he logged well over 20,000 hours of accident-free flight time in numerous makes and models of helicopters and airplanes. Brian held two US patents for helicopter devices and arguably paved the way for what became the full-time news helicopter industry (known as Electronic News Gathering [ENG]) and other gyro-stabilized camera system technology used by the entertainment industry and the US military. He is remembered as one of the finest helicopter pilots who truly helped pioneer new uses for helicopters and promoted the helicopter industry in general wherever he traveled and with whomever he met. Brian is also remembered by his family, friends and employees as one of the most generous and trusting people in the world –often to his detriment.

McMahon Helicopter Services, Inc., was purchased by Brian's two sons, Nick and Nate McMahon in 2014. Nick serves as President and has worked for the company since 1997. Nate serves as Vice-President and has worked for the company full-time since 2009.

In June of 2015, McMahon received FAA authorization to conduct commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations, more informally referred to as "drones". McMahon plans to slowly integrate UAS operations into its flight operations currently being conducted by certified aircraft. Some of this work includes aerial film production, surveys and other transportation applications. As FAA regulations become more conducive to those types of work, UAS will become a large part of McMahon's flight operations as business aviation moves into the future.

In 2016, McMahon phased out the last Sikorsky S58T helicopter from the fleet. The S58T had been the primary airframe of McMahon since 1995, providing 21-years of freight service and thousands of hours in the air. McMahon acquired two Bell 430’s to replace the aging S58T, which increased the speed, fuel efficiency and weather capability of McMahon’s fleet.

McMahon’s S58T being loaded onto a flatbed trailer for shipping. The helicopter was later loaded onto a cargo vessel and exported to South Korea.

McMahon’s S58T being loaded onto a flatbed trailer for shipping. The helicopter was later loaded onto a cargo vessel and exported to South Korea.

Diving head-in into the future, McMahon continues to innovate by operating as a half-tech, half-helicopter company –finding new solutions for customers’ problems through the use of new technologies. In March 2019, McMahon released version 1.0 of the McMahon Now App for Apple’s iOS platforms. The McMahon Now App offers customers the ability to seamlessly track premium freight shipments from end-to-end –regardless of the vehicle or aircraft McMahon is using to ship material. McMahon plans to further enhance the app and use the technology in other service sectors.