Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky was a Russian-American aviation pioneer in both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. His first success came with the S-2, the second aircraft of his design and construction. His fifth airplane, the S-5, won him national recognition as well as F.A.I. license number 64. His S-6-A received the highest award at the 1912 Moscow Aviation Exhibition, and in the fall of that year the aircraft won for its young designer, builder and pilot first prize in the military competition at Saint Petersburg.
Photo: Connecticuthistory.org / Igor on his first flight in Vs-300
After immigrating to the United States in 1919, Sikorsky founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1923,and developed the first of Pan American Airways’ ocean-conquering flying boats in the 1930s.
In 1939, Sikorsky designed and flew the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, the first viable American helicopter, which pioneered the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today. Sikorsky modified the design into the Sikorsky R-4, which became the world’s first mass-produced helicopter in 1942.
Photo: Wikipedia /an upgrade of the Sik-vs-300
Igor Sikorsky was born in Kiev, Russian Empire (in present-day Ukraine), the youngest of five children. His father, Ivan Alexeevich Sikorsky, was a professor of psychology of Kiev St. Vladimir University, a psychiatrist with an international reputation, and an ardent Russian nationalist.
Photo: Wikipedia/ S-2 helicopter
With financial backing from his sister Olga, Sikorsky returned to Paris, the center of the aviation world at the time, in 1909. Sikorsky met with aviation pioneers, to ask them questions about aircraft and flying. In May 1909, he returned to Russia and began designing his first helicopter, which he began testing in July 1909. Despite his progress in solving technical problems of control, Sikorsky realized that the aircraft would never fly. He finally disassembled the aircraft in October 1909, after he determined that he could learn nothing more from the design.
I had learned enough to recognize that with the existing state of the art, engines, materials, and – most of all – the shortage of money and lack of experience… I would not be able to produce a successful helicopter at that time.
Sikorsky’s first aircraft of his own design, the S-1 used a 15 hp Anzani 3-cylinder fan engine in a pusher configuration, that could not lift the aircraft. His second design called the S-2 was powered by a 25 hp Anzani engine in a tractor configuration and first flew on June 3, 1910 at a height of a few feet. On June 30 after some modifications, Sikorsky reached an altitude of “sixty or eighty feet” before the S-2 stalled and was completely destroyed when it crashed in a ravine.
Photo: Wikipedia / Sikorsky_S-6_aircraft_circa_1911