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aware of the fact that if Igor Sikorsky’s son trusted the helicopter and rescue hoist then others would follow. I did have a feeling that it was very, very important. The development of the rescue hoist was the missing link to make the helicopter a universal tool for rescue.


Once the hoist was complete the group at Floyd Bennett which included Graham, Erickson and others began work on additional equipment. The hoist helped spur the development of other rescue equipment such as the Erickson rescue basket.


RPM: During the initial testing of the heli- copter hoist you were also one of the first to ever be hoisted by this new equipment. Was that a duty that you volunteered for or were you assigned to be hoisted? SS: At that time I was a Second


Class Petty Officer and as such you did- n’t volunteer for anything, you were assigned.


RPM: Knowing that the hoist was experi- mental and that the helicopters of the day were underpowered and not as reliable as they are today, what was going through your mind the first time that you were hoisted? SS: At eighteen or nineteen years


old you are immortal and indestructible and I don’t think that those thoughts were in my mind. As a mechanic you knew that the helicopters were under- powered so we always tried to make sure that the demonstrations were early in the morning or late in the afternoon and to use any bit of wind to your advantage. The pilots always did a great job of managing the demonstrations. I never associated the rescue demonstra- tions with any serious dangers; they were part of the job.


RPM: Another Rotorcraft Pioneers article covered Brigadier General Frank Gregory of the Army Air Corps and Air Force. Early in his career Gregory oversaw helicopter development for the military and was very impressed with the work that your father was doing. So much so that Gregory convinced the military to fund some of the helicop- ter development work being done by Sikorsky. Gregory’s work to support helicopter development


ROTORCRAFTPROFESSIONAL


and increase military interest in the helicopter is seen as being a contributing factor to both the end of the Autogiro era and the beginning of the helicop- ter. How important do you think Gregory was to helicopter development in the 1940s? SS: I first met Gregory when he was


a Captain. His expertise dated back to his test pilot duties with the Autogiro. His Autogiro experience benefited him tremendously when he was later assigned to oversee military helicopter development. It is a matter of record that Gregory first flew the helicopter in 1940 and that his strong support of the


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helicopter allowed it to proliferate in the Air Forces. During World War II, helicopters were sent out into China and Burma which allowed LT Carter Harman to make his historic rescue behind enemy lines. Sikorsky R-6s made it into combat before the end of the war. Helicopters were successfully used to transfer parts from floating machine shops and this led to medevac duties. Eventually, the vision of the helicopter as a life saving high speed ambulance was confirmed and Gregory facilitated much of this.


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