Sikorsky, Igor Ivanovich

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. 25 May 1889 Kiev, Ukraine
d. 26 October 1972 Easton, Connecticut, USA
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Russian/American pioneer of large aeroplanes, flying boats, and helicopters.
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Sikorsky trained as an engineer but developed an interest in aviation at the age of 19 when he was allowed to spend several months in Paris to meet French aviators. He bought an Anzani aero-engine and took it back to Russia, where he designed and built a helicopter. In his own words, "It had one minor technical problem—it would not fly—but otherwise it was a good helicopter".
Sikorsky turned to aeroplanes and built a series of biplanes: by 1911 the 5–5 was capable of flights lasting an hour. Following this success, the Russian-Baltic Railroad Car Company commissioned Sikorsky to build a large aeroplane. On 13 May 1913 Sikorsky took off in the Grand, the world's first four-engined aeroplane. With a wing span of 28 m (92 ft) it was also the world's largest, and was unique in that the crew were in an enclosed cabin with dual controls. The even larger Ilia Mourometz flew the following year and established many records, including the carriage of sixteen people. During the First World War many of these aircraft were built and served as heavy bombers.
Following the revolution in Russia during 1917, Sikorsky emigrated first to France and then the United States, where he founded his own company. After building the successful S-38 passenger-carrying amphibian, the Sikorsky Aviation Corporation became part of the United Aircraft Corporation and went on to produce several large flying boats. Of these, the four-engined S-42 was probably the best known, for its service to Hawaii in 1935 and trial flights across the Atlantic in 1937.
In the late 1930s Sikorsky once again turned his attention to helicopters, and on 14 September 1939 his VS-300 made its first tentative hop, with Sikorsky at the controls. Many improvements were made and on 6 May 1941 Sikorsky made a record-breaking flight of over 1½ hours. The Sikorsky design of a single main lifting rotor combined with a small tail rotor to balance the torque effect has dominated helicopter design to this day. Sikorsky produced a long series of outstanding helicopter designs which are in service throughout the world.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur 1960. Presidential Certificate of Merit 1948. Aeronautical Society Silver Medal 1949.
Bibliography
1971, "Sixty years in flying", Aeronautical Journal (Royal Aeronautical Society) (November) (interesting and amusing).
1938, The Story of the Winged S., New York; 1967, rev. edn.
Further Reading
D.Cochrane et al., 1990, The Aviation Careers of Igor Sikorsky, Seattle.
K.N.Finne, 1988, Igor Sikorsky: The Russian Years, ed. C.J.Bobrow and V.Hardisty, Shrewsbury; orig. pub. in Russian, 1930.
F.J.Delear, 1969, Igor Sikorsky: His Three Careers in Aviation, New York.
JDS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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