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November 30, 2012

John Silva, Pioneering Television Engineer Who Revolutionized News Production

Silva, who worked for more than three decades at Los Angeles station KTLA, introduced the first news helicopter, the "Telecopter," in 1958.

John Silva, a pioneering broadcasting engineer who made an enduring impact on news production during his years with Los Angeles television station KTLA, died November 28, 2012. He was 92.

Silva, who served as a Navy radar officer during World War II, started his television career at KTLA when it was still experimental station W6XYZ — an opportunity for which he turned down a job at NBC in New York. He is best known for inventing the Telecopter, a helicopter mobile unit used for television reporting, which is still used today for capturing bird’s-eye views of stories down below.

His innovation, now used throughout the world, earned Silva the nickname "father of airborne news gathering."

Upon his passing, KTLA paid tribute to him on the air:

More about Silva's life and career is available at:

Archive of American Television

Deadline Hollywood

Air & Space Magazine

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, December 4, at:

Conejo Mountain Funeral Home
2052 Howard Rd.
Camarillo, CA 93012

There will be a viewing at 12:00 p.m., with a service to follow at 1:00 pm.


John Silva in KTLA's Stage 6 control room, 1959


Silva at work on the second Telecopter, 1959


Silva with the Telecopter on the day of its first flight, 1958

Silva inside the Telecopter on the day of its first flight, 1958

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