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AFTER SEEING A DEMONSTRATION OF A SIKORSKY HELICOPTER GRAHAM REQUESTED A TRANSITION TO ROTORY WING AIRCRAFT.


detect enemy submarines changed naval operations forever.


Many


people helped develop techniques and equipment for such operations, but one has been most influential: Stewart Graham.


Stewart Ross Graham was born in Rosedale, NY in 1917 and grew up near a small grass airfield known as the Curtiss-Wright Airport. Today it is John F. Kennedy International Airport. As a kid, Graham spent a lot of time hanging around the airfield and crossed paths with many aviators who would go on to make a name for them- selves. One was Charles Lindbergh (Graham, S., Rotary Wings, n.d.). Graham enlisted in the Coast


Guard in 1937, spending most of his first several years as a surfman and engine mechanic at small boat sta- tions on Long Island. Having never


lost interest in aviation, Graham responded to a 1940 solicitation for flight training. After being sent to the Coast Guard Air Station in Charleston, SC, Graham received his wings and became the 114th Coast Guard pilot in 1942. He later received a commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard and started his aviation career flying seaplanes. After seeing a demonstration of a Sikorsky helicopter Graham requested a transition to rotary wing aircraft. On October 20, 1943, with barely three and a half hours of helicopter flight time Graham soloed and became only the second Coast Guard helicopter pilot (Commander Stewart Ross Graham Official Coast Guard Historian’s Office Biography, n.d.).


Stewart Graham was one of the only designated military helicopter


Right: Commander Stewart Graham is shown at his induction into the United States Naval Aviation Hall of HonorPhoto: Courtesy of the Coast Guard Aviation Association


Below: Stewart Graham at the controls of a Sikorsky HNS-1, 1943 Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office


pilots and was sent to become a hel- icopter instructor at the Coast Guard Air Station at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY.


As a lieu-


tenant junior grade, Graham was selected as the only Coast Guardsman in a group of U.S. and Royal Navy personnel assigned to the British merchant vessel Daghestan. This group, along with two Sikorsky YR-4 helicopters, was part of a secret, high priority mis- sion to test the feasibility of helicop- ter operations from a ship at sea to patrol for submarines. On January 6, 1944 a convoy of over thirty naval and merchant ships, including the Daghestan, departed New York City headed for England. Along the way the convoy encountered fierce weather which included snow, high winds and seas. To make matters worse, a submarine attack sank three of the ships. Finally on the tenth day of the trip, January 16, 1944, the weather subsided enough to allow flight operations (Graham, S., Wolfpack, n.d.). Graham was cho- sen to make the flight and departed from the Daghestan for a thirty minute flight around the convoy. Graham’s flight marked the first time a helicopter had been flown from a ship at sea. Along with sev- eral other flights over the next few days this flight demonstrated the helicopter could be used for anti- submarine patrols.


Subsequently, Stewart Graham


returned to Floyd Bennett Field as the lead instructor pilot. In February of 1946, Lieutenant Graham was assigned as project pilot for a new helicopter anti-submarine sonar dipping program. This was a Navy program run by the Naval Research Laboratory. Graham flew helicopter flights testing the ability of sonar systems to detect sub- merged submarines and pioneered


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