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important in the aviation world because it was the first practical four engine air- craft and it was important from a pilot- ing perspective as flying it made him a better pilot. In his second career the S- 42 flying boat was probably his favorite. It was so far ahead of its time it allowed Pan Am to pioneer and survey the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic flying routes and also establish a strong foothold in South America. In his rotary wing career he was very proud of the S-61 or H-3. It was a twin turbine amphibious helicopter that was very capable and ahead of its time. However, in helicopters the VS-300 was probably his favorite.


RPM: Rotorcraft Pioneers article number four profiled Arthur Young who made significant strides in helicopter stability and later partnered with Larry Bell to develop the third successful North American helicopter. In Young’s autobiography he mentions how gratifying it was when, at the end of his presentation at the third Rotary Wing Conference in 1941, your father stood up and con- gratulated him on his work. There seems to have been a tremendous sense of competition between the early helicopter designers but also a tremendous amount of mutual respect. What can you say about the interactions amongst this group, especially in the 1940s? SS: These are the little interesting touches of Igor Sikorksy. He was always very complimentary and he always tried to be fair with his compatriots in the aeronautical world. In the mid 1950s the Piasecki and Sikorsky companies were fierce competitors. I was told first hand that there was a dedication cere- mony at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River where both Frank Piasecki and Igor Sikorsky were seated near each other. Two young Navy pilots took off, one in a Sikorsky S-58 and one in a Piasecki H-21, and both put on a very impressive flight demonstration in their respective aircraft. The person who told me this story was sitting near my father and Frank Piasecki. I was told that during the flight demonstration my dad turned to Frank Piasecki and said with a pat on the back, “You see Frank, in God’s wonderful sky there is room


ROTORCRAFTPROFESSIONAL


for both of us.” All of the pioneers worked hard to sell their products but there did not seem to be the same mud throwing that you see among the politi- cians and salesmen of today. There was definitely competition between the early pioneers; but perhaps because it was such a small fraternity the competi- tion was very civilized.


RPM: Included in this group besides your


father and Young were several of the other individ- uals profiled in the Pioneers Series, notably Frank Piasecki, Charles Kaman and Stanley Hiller. Collectively this small group of very talented engi- neers was responsible for tremendous advances in the helicopter industry from the 1940s on. What common traits made this group so successful and allowed such significant advances in helicopter flight to be realized? SS: It’s hard to pinpoint, but probably one of the reasons is the fact that the helicopter was such an unknown entity that the push to improve it and make it a military success and then a commercial success galva- nized this group. The advances in aeronautics and aircraft structures were in no man’s land, meaning that the aerodynamic loads being encountered had never been seen before. The com- mon traits were enthusiasm, the heli- copter was a fairly light and relatively small so quick changes could be made practically overnight without having to spend a billion dollars. Most of it was a collective enthusiasm, a collective love of the helicopter. All of these people, the Piaseckis, Kamans and Youngs were confident in the helicopter and the future of the machine. If there was a common trait it was this belief or absolute conviction in the future of the helicopter.


RPM: Lately there have been a lot of devel- opments with unmanned aerial vehicles, several companies including Sikorsky are working on high speed helicopters, there is ongoing work in lighter and stronger materials and technology continues to advance in avionics. Where do you see helicopter development going in the next 20 years? SS: I think there are probably two divergent movements. One is to make


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the helicopter a little less expensive to operate. This is being done by Robinson, Bell, and Eurocopter main- ly in the two place and four place heli- copters. I think that you’re going to see them developing and going through some technical improvements to make them less expensive. The other line of attack is going to be to develop helicop- ters with higher cruising speeds. Sikorsky has the X-2 which is currently unofficially holding the world helicop- ter speed record. So I would say two areas, making the small helicopters cheaper and increasing the cruise speeds of the larger helicopters.


RPM: Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation has been and continues to be one of the premier heli- copter manufacturers in the world with some of the most successful helicopter designs ever developed to include the S-58, H-3 and H-60 variants. What has made the company your father started so suc- cessful and able to continually stay at the front of such a competitive industry? SS: Some of the designs were so technically advanced they became used around the world. The S-61 or H-3 was one of these great advances, at one time the S-61 was being built in the US, Canada, England , Italy and Japan. It was being built under license because it was such a world leader of a helicopter. Then you have the H-60 and all its variants the Blackhawk, Seahawk, Jayhawk and the others. With all due respect to the other great designs, the H-60 might turn out to be the DC-3 of helicopters. Over 2800 have been built and the number may top 3000 by the end of the year. Licensed production is now starting in Poland. I think we’ll be building them for another three to five years. This has become another world leader and a very successful utility machine.


I think the answer is that the legacy


of Igor Sikorsky did influence a great many of the young engineers as they entered the workforce at Sikorsky Aircraft. Many of the senior engineers of today were influenced by my father in one way or another. Over years the atmosphere or esprit de corps has


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