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Igor Sikorsky Flies Helicopter - History

Igor Sikorsky Flies Helicopter - History

Russian born Igor Sikorsky flew his VS-300 helicopter in Stratford, Connecticut. The VS-300 was not the first helicopter to fly, as German Professor Henrich Focke had also designed one. In addition, many people were working on autogiros (planes that had propellers for forward movement and blades for lift). The VS 300, however, was the first modern helicopter to include a main rotor and a smaller tail rotor. It would span the helicopter industry.

December 11: The World’s First Jet-Powered Helicopter Flies Over Bloomfield

Today in 1951, aerospace engineer Charles H. Kaman’s modified K-225 helicopter took its first test flight in Bloomfield, Connecticut, changing the future of helicopter aviation forever. As the first helicopter to use a jet engine to power its drive shaft, the K-225 demonstrated a way to make helicopters fly faster and higher, with less weight, than ever before.

Born in 1919, Kaman went to work in the propeller division of Hamilton Standard in Windsor Locks in 1940 after graduating with an engineering degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. There, Kaman worked alongside vertical aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky, who was then on the cusp of producing the world’s first mass-manufactured helicopter, and developed his own lifelong interest in rotary-powered flight. A few years later, in 1945, the 26-year-old engineer founded Kaman Aircraft in the garage of his family’s West Hartford home with only a few thousand dollars on hand. Kaman soon moved his modest enterprise to nearby Bloomfield and began building experimental aircraft.

This image of Kaman’s K-MAX cargo helicopter showcases the design of the craft’s twin intermeshed rotors.

Kaman’s helicopter designs looked and operated much differently than Sikorsky’s, with most of them featuring two slightly-angled, intermeshing rotors that eliminated the need for a tail rotor. Within four years after hr founded Kaman Aircraft, Kaman’s first helicopter, the experimental K-125, took flight in Bloomfield. Ever the innovator, he also made a number of improvements to the K-125 and contemplated attaching the rotors to a jet (gas turbine) engine, which would vastly increase the craft’s lift power and stability while decreasing its overall weight. In 1951, Kaman retrofitted one of his model K-225 helicopters with a Boeing engine, and when it took flight above the town of Bloomfield on December 11, it became the world’s first gas-turbine-powered helicopter — forever altering the future development of vertical aviation the world over.


How Helicopters Work

It was Igor Sikorsky, a Russian-born aeronautical engineer, who developed the first machine with all of the qualities we associate with modern helicopters. Interestingly, Sikorsky's early helicopters -- circa 1910 -- were failures, and he abandoned his efforts so he could focus on fixed-wing airplanes.

After emigrating to the United States and starting Sikorsky Aviation Corporation in Bridgeport, Conn., he once again turned his attention to vertical flight. In 1931, Sikorsky submitted a patent for a modern-looking helicopter design featuring a single main rotor and tail rotor. Eight years later, the first incarnation of this design -- the VS-300 -- lifted Sikorsky into the air. The VS-300 featured a 75-horsepower Lycoming engine connected to a main rotor with three blades and a two-bladed tail rotor. It also provided mechanisms to control the machine's flight. Two inputs, known as the collective and cyclic-pitch sticks, enabled a pilot to change the orientation of the blades to produce lift and enable lateral movement.

This was the first practical helicopter, but it still needed some refinement so it didn't ride like a bucking bronco. Sikorsky continued to make improvements, and on May 6, 1941, the VS-300 broke the world helicopter endurance record by staying aloft for 1 hour, 32 minutes and 26.1 seconds. Other engineers and innovations quickly followed. Notable among the early helicopter pioneers were Arthur Young, Frank Piasecki and Stanley Hiller. Young, backed by Bell Aircraft Corp., developed the Bell 30 helicopter and then the Bell 47, the first commercially certified helicopter. Piasecki designed the single-seater PV2 in 1943, but became better known for large cargo helicopters powered by two main rotors. And Hiller produced several helicopter models including the UH-12, which saw action in Korea and Vietnam.

Up next, we'll look at the basic parts of a modern helicopter to understand what makes these strange machines fly.

Autogiros are similar to helicopters, but operate on different principles. These machines have unpowered blades above the fuselage that rely on airflow to rotate them and provide lift. A conventional propeller, however, drives the aircraft forward. Autogiros have several advantages, including a relatively short takeoff and a near vertical descent. Juan de la Cierva of Spain perfected the autogiro in the early 1920s.

Helicopters made autogiros obsolete in the 1940s and '50s, but today, autogiros -- or gyroplanes, as they're often called -- are making a comeback. Companies like Carter Aviation Technologies in Texas and AutoGyro in Germany are producing modern versions of the autogiro for personal and commercial use.


Igor&rsquos dream of aviation began at the age of 11 years. That statement of the dream is quoted from Chapter 1 of his autobiography – &ldquoThe Story of the Winged – S.&rdquo

&ldquoDuring the year 1900, at the age of about 11 years, I had a wonderful dream. For several days I lived under the impression of that dream and have always remembered the details.

I saw myself walking along a narrow, luxuriously decorated passageway. On both sides were walnut doors, similar to the state room doors of a steamer. The floor was covered with an attractive carpet. A spherical electric light from the ceiling produced a pleasant bluish illumination. Walking slowly, I felt a slight vibration under my feet and was not surprised to find that the feeling was different from that experienced on a steamer or on a railroad train. I took this for granted because in my dream I knew that I was on board a large flying ship in the air. Just as I reached the end of the corridor and opened a door to enter a decorated lounge, I woke up.

Everything was over. The palatial flying ship was only a beautiful creation of the imagination. At that age I had been told that man never produced a successful flying machine and that it was considered impossible.&rdquo

&ldquoImpossible&rdquo but not to Igor Sikorsky who went on to distinguish himself in three different aeronautical fields – large multi-engine aircraft, transoceanic flying boats and helicopters.

To feel the depth of this aviation pioneer we have compiled below a sampling of the comments of Igor I. Sikorsky on aviation and engineering, culled from his writings, speeches, interviews and several unpublished manuscripts. Minimal editing was exercised, so as to preserve the exact words and the accent as much as possible.

Leonardo da Vinci Sketch of a Helicopter - Igor's Inspiration

"I was always interested in flying - I dreamed about it even when I was a small boy. However, at that time flying was considered completely impossible. The very expression of "he was building a flying machine' was considered equivalent to saying that the man was crazy."

"We had little except the flight of birds to turn to for information"

Describing Paris in 1909:

"At that time, Paris was the center of the aviation world. Aeronautics was neither an industry nor even a science both were yet to come. It was an art and I might say a passion. Indeed, at that time it was a miracle. It meant the realization of legends and dreams that had existed for thousands of years and had been pronounced again and again as impossible by scientific authorities. Therefore, even the brief and unsteady flights of that period were deeply impressive. Many times I observed expressions of joy and tears in the eyes of witnesses who for the first time watched a flying machine carrying a man in the air."

Of Early Aviation:

"We were ignorant, and we were ignorant of the fact that we were ignorant! This was ignorance squared, and it often led to disaster."

H-2 Helicopter 1910

"My first two machines were built between 1909 and 1910 and were helicopters. The first of these ships refused to leave the ground while the second could lift itself, but refused to lift me."

Of the early Russian flights:

Sikorsky S-1 May 1910

"Throughout 1910 and 1911, I followed the intensely interesting and romantic road of the early pioneers who built their machines without knowing how to build them and then climbed into the cockpits to try to fly their aircraft without knowing how to fly. "

"In the pioneering days, self training, both in engineering problems and in piloting, was an important condition of success and even survival."

"There was also the comforting realization that nearly all discoveries were preceded by numerous failures."

"In those early days, the Chief Engineer was almost always the Chief Pilot as well. This had the automatic result of eliminating poor engineering very early in aviation."

"I will admit that a great deal of the design of these early aircraft were based on pure guess work. We had little except the flight of birds to turn to for information."

"For take-off, some friends or spectators held the tail. We fiddled with the needle-valve and spark to get maximum rpm for that particular day. Then they let go and off you went. You did not touch engine controls in flight. Most of the landings were when the aircraft decided to land, not the pilot."

Sikorsky S-5, Igor's First "Real" Airplane

"It was on this aircraft (S-5) that I succeeded to teach myself to fly, first by running and making a considerable number of short, straight-line hops and finally making my first circle in the air."

Igor at the controls of the S-5

"On the S-5, I sat entirely in the open just above and behind the lower wing. The view was free in nearly all directions, including straight down."

"The work of a pioneer in science of technique often consists of finding a correct solution, or creating a working mechanism, based on laws that are not yet discovered."

In Reference to the Grand:

Sikorsky S-21 The Grand 1913

"It was a unique aircraft. It took off at a speed of 60 miles per hour, cruised at 60 miles and stalled at 60 miles!"

"We knew we were building a light structure (the S-21 Grand), but it seemed more productive to fly prudently at a load factor of 2 than to roll safely along the ground at a load factor of 3."

"It was only a few years ago that a pilot who had an altimeter, a tachometer, an air speed indicator, and a fuel gauge was thought to have extremely good equipment."

On Coming to America 1919:

Igor in New York City 1919

"In America I found the confirmation of my hopes and came to understand the reason for the success of this country. Nothing can equal free work of free men. This is the foundation upon which the indisputable success of the United States has been built."

"Money lost-nothing lost, Health lost-little lost, Spirit lost-everything lost."

S-29A under Construction at Utgoff Farm 1923

"I have been hungry in America. I have known what it is to seek for work and not find it in America. But there was never a day during the hardest times that I have lost hope in my planes or that I did not say aloud, "Thank God I am here, a free man, breathing free air. No man can order what I do. If I fail, I can try again!"

On Aviation in the Early 1920's:

"At that time aviation was very dangerous and the greatest danger was starvation. The best chance for a good meal was an invitation as an after dinner speaker."

To a young, nervous pilot on his second or third solo flight:
"Young man, when I started to fly, we did not know if the airplane or the pilot was capable of flight. In your case, 50% of the problem has been solved"

To a 16 year old aviatrix Elinor Smith:
"It is much better to learn (flying) while young. One is so unaware of what is impossible."

"Never promise a customer anything you are not sure you can achieve."

"According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumblebee can't fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know the laws of aerodynamics, so it goes ahead and flies."

Charles Lindberg and the Spirit of St. Louis 1927

"America can be proud of the pioneering period, which (the Wright brothers) started, was completed and closed by another great American, Charles Lindbergh, and his wonderful flight of May 21, 1927. Before his flight, aviation was a hobby. after his flight, it became a profession."

Sikorsky S-38 Nine Seat Commercial Amphibian 1928

"The aeronautical engineer always struggles with what might be termed a three-cornered problem. He must get speed, load capacity, and flying range and to accent any one, he must sacrifice the other."

Sikorsky S-40 1931

"We feel justified in considering the American Clipper (S-40) the forerunner of a series of other glorious clipper ships that established American airline operation across all the oceans."

On Being An American:

Igor Sikorsky and Orville Wright by XR-4 1942

In response to a request from the Associated Press on April 20, 1941 as part of "I am an American Day" Igor responded as follows:

"I am happy to be an American because this great country is the stronghold of liberty and progress because here each citizen can arrange his life and family as he wants can express freely any beliefs or opinions that he may have without fear of persecution or intimidation.

I am proud to be an American because this great country always has been the traditional carrier of idealism, good will, and help all over the world wherever there is need or suffering.

For myself and my four American-born sons, I am happy and proud to be a citizen of this great, powerful, free country that has no reason to envy or fear any country in the world."

Helicopter Patent Sketch 1930

"A flying machine rising directly from the ground by the action of a lifting propeller was most appealing to my imagination."

"The whole art of aeronautics, all of man's accumulated experience in mechanical flight, has contributed to the development of direct-lift operation."

"The helicopter approaches closer than any other (vehicle) to fulfillment of mankind's ancient dream of the flying horse and the magic carpet."

VS-300 First Flight 1939

"In September (1939), the helicopter made its first flight. The "first flight" is somewhat of an ambitious term, but anyway the ship is off the ground probably 3" to 5" high, probably for a few seconds. that was all."

During the very earliest flight we extensively used slow motion (filming) and this was for two reasons. One- the ship. was rather unsteady and the slow motion changed this to a considerably less risky and less bumpy flight. Another thing. due to slow motion the very short flights looked much longer - about twice longer - which was good. Now, a little later, the slow motion no longer was necessary because we could produce reasonably long flights."

R-4 with Igor Sikorsky and USCG CDR Frank Erickson

"It would be right to state that, with the successful flight of the XR-4 in the summer of 1942, the helicopter became a reality in the United States."

"Two rotors are like two women in the kitchen you might think they would do twice as much work, but the efficiency of each is lowered by 35 percent."

USCG HH-60J Rescue in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina

"For me, the greatest source of comfort and satisfaction is the fact that our helicopters have saved up to the present time (1969) over fifty thousand lives and still continue with their rescue missions. I consider this to be the most glorious page in the history of aviation." (Today, 2012, the number is close to two million lives saved.)

"The many interesting flight activities and great variety of service rendered by the helicopter are well known, the most important being the saving of many thousands of lives."

"It would be right to say that the helicopter's role in saving lives represents one of the most glorious pages in the history of human flight"

"We, the designers and builders of airplanes, would be building something useless and worthless if it wouldn't be for the skill and courage of our airmen."

"If a man is in need of rescue, an airplane can come in and throw flowers on him, and that's just about all. But a direct lift aircraft could come in and save his life."

Neil Armstrong -First Moon Landing 1969

"Engineering is a living branch of human activity and its frontiers are by no means exhausted."

"The list of impossibilities, for aviation could go on and on, and only as time and the unexpectedly brilliant development of flying progressed, was it finally recognized that the most dangerous forecast in aviation is to predict the impossibility of something."

VH-3D Helicopter departing the White House

"Here in America, I found the confirmation of my hopes and came to understand the reason for success of this great country - It was the free initiative and free work of a free people. It was the result of the fundamental idea of. 'Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. '. This has been, and still remains, the wisest and most constructive formula upon which a free, progressive, and successful human society can be founded."

"In respect to the problem of free take-off and free landing on any spot on the earth, the aeroplane proved to be the most hopeless vehicle ever designed."

Sikorsky X2 Technology(TM) Demonstration Helicopter

"In improving the situation, science and human intellect are capable of performing miraculous work, provided only that they are guided and directed by the intellect of the higher order - spiritual wisdom. Without such guidance, science and intellect are absolutely blind and completely unreliable."

Igor Sikorsky deep in thought

"Truth in politics is optional - Truth in engineering is mandatory."

Compiled and Edited by:
Igor I. Sikorsky Historical Archives-
Vinny Devine and Sergei Sikorsky
December 2011


First Successful Single-Rotor Helicopter Flight

On May 24, 1940, Igor Sikorsky successfully flew the first single-rotor helicopter.

Born in Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine) Sikorsky developed an interest in flight at the age of 11, and created a small rubber band powered helicopter by the time he was 12.

Sikorsky attended the St. Petersburg Imperial Russian Naval Academy for three years and later a mechanical college. However, in 1908 he learned of the Wright Brothers’ Flyer and Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s dirigible. He later claimed that, “within 24 hours, I decided to change my life’s work. I would study aviation.”

By May 1909, Sikorsky began designing his first helicopter. However, by that October he realized that with only the parts and knowledge he currently had, it would never fly. Sikorsky then began designing fixed-wing airplanes. After his design won a Russian Army aircraft exhibition, Sikorsky became Chief Engineer of the aircraft division for the Russian Baltic Railroad Car Works. In that role he designed the first four-engine aircraft, the S-21 Russky Vityaz, which he test piloted on May 13, 1913. At the outbreak of World War I, Sikorsky designed the first four-engine bomber.

Item #113253 – Russian commemorative cover honoring Sikorsky’s accomplishments.

After the war, Sikorsky believed he’d have more opportunities in America and moved there in March 1919. After working as a teacher and lecturer, he established the Sikorsky Manufacturing Company. With financial backing from composer Sergei Rachmaninoff and others, Sikorsky created one of America’s first twin-engine aircraft. His company then became part of United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (now United Technologies Corporation). With that company, Sikorsky designed and built “flying boats” including the S-42 Clipper that was used for Pan Am transatlantic flights.

Item #55696 – Sikorsky First Day Proof Card.

Through all this, Sikorsky was still interested in helicopters. In 1931 he filed a patent for a “direct lift aircraft,” which he received four years later. He built his single-engine helicopter, the VS-300, and staged its first tethered flight on September 14, 1939. After that success, he was ready to complete its first free flight on May 24, 1940.

Some mechanics didn’t believe Sikorsky’s helicopter would fly and dubbed it “Igor’s nightmare.” However, during that test flight it successfully flew up to 20 feet off the ground, traveled about 200 feet, backed up, and then landed.

Sikorsky then took what he learned from the VS-300 to design the R-4, which impressed military officials, who ordered 100 of them. In fact, the R-4 was world’s first mass-produced helicopter and one of the first American helicopters used in World War II. It was used to rescue troops in Burma, Alaska, and other areas with challenging terrain. Sikorsky went on to design subsequent models – the R-4 through R-6 – producing over 400 helicopters before the war’s end.

The helicopters Sikorsky’s company went on to produce were even more widely used in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In fact, Sikorsky helicopters are still used today, including the UH-60 Black Hawk and the Marine One Fleet that transports the President.


80th birthday : The genius of Igor Sikorsky

80 years ago, Russian-born inventor-engineer and pilot Igor Sikorsky made the first flight of his self-designed single-rotor helicopter, the VS-300. This human and technical feat has given rise to a family of aircraft that have been entered into the history of aviation. By François Blanc

On September 14, 1939, at 30 years old, the American inventor, engineer and pilot, Igor Sikorsky himself took control of a self-designed rotary wing machine with hopes of making it fly. The scene takes place within the United Aircraft Corporation (later known as United Technologies) facilities in Hartford, Connecticut, where Sikorsky headed the company’s very young helicopter division. The fearless pilot was not new to the world of aeronautics.

Interested in aviation at a time when it was in its infancy – Igor was born on May 25, 1889 in Kiev, a Ukrainian city in the Empire of the Russian Tsars – he had devoted himself at a very early age to studying and designing, what would later become the helicopter. According to him, it was the second step in the conquest of the sky, after the historical flight of the Wright Brothers, Wilbur & Orville, on December 17, 1903, aboard their fixed wing airplane.

In 1908, at age 19, he had already designed his first vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, using the principle of counter-rotating coaxial rotors. Although, it was not ready to be flown, or even attempt a takeoff. The inventor knew that due to a lack of on-board power and sufficiently resistant materials, the road would be long before the possibility of reaching the goal.

The first stage of his journey had taken him to Paris, where he had gone in January 1909, encouraged by his parents. Why Paris? Because at the time, France was the most active and most advanced country, as far as engine and airframe design and construction were concerned.

By the time of his return to Kiev in April 1909, he had obtained the necessary foundations for aircraft design and construction. He even brought back a 25hp air-cooled Anzani engine, as well as a few metal aircraft parts and substantial documentation – Igor read and spoke French. At Port-Aviation (in Juvisy, near Paris), he had met, among other people, Captain Ferdinand Ferber, an officer who was very familiar with the works of the pioneers in the industry, in addition to knowing all of the available techniques. Once, Sikorsky had explained his helicopter dreams to Ferber, who had simply dissuaded him from pursuing the idea, as the goal was still too high to reach. However, the young Russian inventor, as soon as he returned home, had thrown himself into the design of his SH-1. For two months, from May to June 1909, he had worked, calculated, concocted, and assembled his helicopter. And yet, power was lacking, along with effective flight controls. The SH-1 would remain in a model state in the laboratory. Then came a second machine, a little lighter and capable of a few poorly controlled leaps. It was destroyed during the course of a testing session. Igor understood then that Captain Ferber was right. Fully aware of the efforts to be made before a piloted and controllable helicopter takes off, he had concluded that he should first focus on the design and construction of fixed-wing aerodynes…

From his first airplane, the S-1, Igor Sikorsky set out on a new path, as a designer and pilot. From the beginning, as if he had never felt the slightest fear for his life, he had made it a point of honor to fly his own creations himself.

In 1910, the first flight of his S-2 was completed. After, in 1911, he obtained his pilot license from the Imperial Aeroclub of Russia. Two years later, his S-9 was the first monohull aircraft built in Russia. Until 1916, he continued developing aircrafts, building the first four-engine in the world, winning several world records (autonomy and useful load), and in 1914, he made the largest hydroplane ever built, fly.

Then came the Russian revolution of 1917. For him, who had been honored twice by the Tsar himself, the future had darkened. In March 1918, he decided to leave his family and native Russia. A new life, full of uncertainty, had opened in front of him.

At the port of Kola (now Murmansk), he embarked for England and then joined France, where many aviation specialists knew him. Introduced to the military authorities, he had obtained an order for five prototypes of a new bomber. On November 11, 1918, the Armistice, ended the project. Tempted to stay in France, he realized that his best chance for success was now in the United States of America.

On March 14, 1919, a year after leaving his homeland, he had landed in New York and come into contact with some immigrants from White Russia, whom he would found Hannevig-Sikorsky Aircraft Company on Long Island. Struck by the considerable delay of the United States compared to Europe in aviation, he had come to realize the lack of vision of Americans toward the development of commercial aviation. Therefore, he turned to the military authorities of his host country.

With a letter of recommendation from the American General, Mason Mathews Patrick, head of the US Army Air Service (USAAS) deployed to Europe at the end of the 1 st World War, he had managed to attract the attention of military authorities. Gradually, he had begun to finally establish himself as a leading aircraft manufacturer: between 1923 (the year he founded the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation) and 1937, he had resumed his activities as a pilot and engineer, built seven different types of aircraft (including the giant commercial seaplane, the American S-40 Clipper), and once again won several World records.

On September 14, 1939, when he moved to the helm of his VS-300 helicopter, Igor Sikorsky was already a leading player in the aviation world. He also shows how much his childhood dream – the vertical takeoff and landing – was still present 30 years later. As proof, it is only necessary to consider the patents that he filed on June 27, 1931, then on March 19, 1935, dealing with systems capable of solving the problems inherent in any vertical takeoff aerodyne equipped with a single lift rotor: torque effect compensation and yaw steering control.

At the end of summer 1939, the first “lift-off” of the machine piloted by its inventor, a little more than 10 centimeters from the ground, it was a success in itself, even if long months of study would still be necessary before reaching the goal: total control of the flight in the three dimensions. Thus, Igor Sikorsky and his engineers developed a version without cyclic control of the main rotor blades, before returning to this rational but problematic technical solution. From modifications to attempts at testing a number of hypotheses, the VS-300A, VS-300B and VS-300C (which flew in March 1940) succeeded in their first test flights. Although, many obstacles remained to be overcome: elimination of hazardous vibrations, development of precise and reliable flight controls, and demonstration of autorotation.

Captive and free flights would come before Sikorsky, who put more energy into drawing the military’s attention to the progress of his work. He then built his first single-rotor with an anti-torque rotor: the VS-316, called R-4 by the military authorities who ordered the prototype XR-4, two-seat version of the VS-300C-2. The first copy would be delivered in 1942.

Twenty types of helicopters would follow the R4 over the next half-century.

At 68, Igor Sikorsky retired from Sikorsky Aircraft (1957), and remained a consulting engineer in the years that followed. He died on October 26, 1972. He was 83. The day before he died, he was working at his desk.


Black Hawk Beginnings: The Sikorsky Company

The Black Hawk helicopter is a product of the Sikorsky company, which was started by Igor Sikorsky in 1923. Sikorsky was responsible for creating the Sikorsky R-4, the first military helicopter used by the United States Army Air Force.

Also known as the Hoverfly, the R-4 had a short production that ended in 1944, however, Sikorsky’s legacy was only beginning. In 1957, Sikorsky’s company began supplying the United States with what would be the first presidential helicopter. This unit is also known by the call sign, Marine One.

The recognition received by Sikorsky’s company only fueled their advancements as they strove to innovate aerospace technology.


1 Platt-LePage XR-1 - United States

Also produced during World War Two the Platt-LePage XR-1 was produced for the US Air Force (although only two were ever built). It was an early American transverse rotors helicopter and while the design showed useful promise, it was soon superseded by more successful helicopter designs.

Via Vertical Flight Photo Gallery

Both of these XR-1 helicopters seem to have survived with one on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum while the other is in storage at the Paul Garber Restoration and Storage Facility.

In summary, these early experimental helicopters gave us the helicopter we know today, but who knows why anyone was brave enough to fly them in the first place.

WhistlinDiesel put the reliable pickup's indestructible reputation to the ultimate test.

Aaron is best known for his dad jokes and his tendency to hitchhike around the world. Hailing from New Zealand, you just never know where this wandering Kiwi will turn up (occasionally its actually New Zealand). While Aaron may have graduated in accounting, it soon became clear that a more outdoorsy and adventurous lifestyle is what would suit him. He has a flare for writing and has taught English around the world for years. A nerd, he is always interesting in researching different topics of interest including the past and the future history of English.


Igor Sikorsky

First To Design, Produce And Fly A Helicopter In The Western Hemisphere, 1940

1889 – 1972

Germany produced the world’s first controllable transport helicopter in 1940 (the Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 kite), but was slow to exploit the achievement. As a result, Russian Igor Sikorsky was the first to successfully design a practical helicopter.

Sikorsky’s early attempts to fly a helicopter ended in failure and he transferred his interest to fixed-wing aircraft. Giant aircraft such as his “Le Grande” of 1913, the world’s first four-engine airplane, became his trademark.

The Soviet Revolution of 1917 forced Sikorsky to flee Russia. Almost penniless, he made New York his new home and attempted a fresh start. He reestablished his reputation as a great aircraft designer with the twin engine S-29-A. However, he soon abandoned his pursuit of fixed-wing airplanes to return to the subject of his earliest enthusiasm, rotating winged aircraft.

Sikorsky subsequently developed the VS-300 helicopter. This machine had a single main lifting rotor and a small vertical rotor at the tail to offset twisting effects and to supply directional control. The VS-300 made its first successful free flight on May 13, 1940, and set a world endurance record for helicopters of one hour and 32.5 minutes in May 1941.

In later years, Sikorsky’s successes were followed by an ever-improving series of helicopters bearing his name, such as the S-64 “Skycrane,” a flying crane capable of carrying a load of 22,400 pounds. Before his death at age 83, Sikorsky witnessed the worldwide use of helicopters for civilian and military purposes.


History on Igor Sikorsky: The Inventor of the First Helicopter

When you research the early years of helicopter development, it doesn’t take long for Igor Sikorsky to come up. Not only is he credited for inventing the first helicopter, but he is also known as being a visionary regarding the possibilities that existed for early aviation. While other people were merely trying to get an aircraft to lift off of the ground, Sikorsky was already thinking about how people could use air travel for a faster form of transportation. We love how his work enabled us to bring the best helicopter tour of New York City today. We also thought that you would enjoy the history behind the man who made it all possible.

Working On an Early Dream

Sikorsky was born in Kiev, Russia in 1889 and at a young age he developed an interest in aviation. According to historians, he first began to experiment with his ideas regarding vertical flight at the age of 11. Also, at this age he played with helicopter toys and dreamed of building an aircraft that people could use as a luxury form of transportation. As he matured, Sikorsky went on to study in Paris and completed his education at the Mechanical Engineering College of the Polytechnic Institute in Kiev. While he originally anticipated to establish a career in engineering, his discovery of the Wright Brothers work changed his path. This is when he decided to focus solely on aviation.

Waiting for Technology to Catch Up

In 1909, Sikorsky began to work on designing a single rotor aircraft that was capable of vertical flight. While he was able to work out the issues he found with the design, he was never able to find an engine that was light enough to allow it to fully lift off of the ground. Once Sikorsky realized that technology was not ready for his ideas yet, he shifted his focus to working on traditional airplanes. In 1913, he piloted the first successful four-engine aircraft flight that also earned him an honorary degree from St. Petersburg Polytechnical Institute.

Achieving the Goal of Vertical Helicopter Flight

In 1919, Sikorsky immigrated to the United States to escape the unrest in Russia. Once there, he continued to teach and work on the development of planes until he finally returned to his dream of working on vertical flight designs. After years of hard work and designing, Sikorsky introduced the world’s first recognized helicopter in 1939, the VS-300. It’s first flight was piloted by Sikorsky himself and although it was tethered, it managed to stay in the air for several seconds. By 1942, Sikorsky’s first helicopter was ready for mass production and his designs have served as the basis for military and passenger helicopters that we still use today.

When NYC residents choose to take a convenient private helicopter tour, it is easy to forget that the opportunity to travel in luxury can all be traced back to the early visions of Sikorsky who refused to give up on his dream. While it may have taken decades for technology to catch up to his ideas for air travel, his tenacity brought us the ability to enjoy the benefits of vertical flight.