March 30: Igor Sikorsky, Inventor of the Helicopter, Arrives in United States

1937 ad for the Sikorsky Clipper Flying Boat.

The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, based in Stratford, Connecticut since 1929, is a world leader in military and commercial helicopter production and is one of Connecticut’s most historically significant and globally influential businesses.  Sikorsky helicopters are used extensively in all five branches of the United States military, and its most recognizable craft — the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter — is used by the militaries of over two dozen countries worldwide.

The company’s founder, Igor Sikorsky, was born in Kiev (then a part of Russia; now part of Ukraine) in 1889 and studied aviation from an early age.  While Sikorsky was remarkably successful in designing fixed-wing aircraft in Russia — even earning recognition from Tsar Nicolas II for designing a four-engine plane used by the Russian Army in World War I — he held a lifelong passion for solving the mysteries of “vertical lift” aircraft.

However, Sikorsky was unable to pursue his engineering dreams in Russia due to increasing political unrest ahead of the Bolshevik Revolution.  He fled his home country, and after short stays in England and France, Igor Sikorsky arrived on American shores on March 30, 1919, where he was free to realize his dream of becoming the world’s foremost designer and producer of helicopter aircraft.  He founded the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation in 1923, and after moving his company headquarters to Connecticut in 1929, Sikorsky designed and successfully flew the first viable helicopter in history (the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300) in 1939.

Further Reading

Igor Sikorsky,Igor I. Sikorsky Historical Archives

World’s First Helicopter – Today in History, September 14Connecticut History online