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ROTORCRAFT PIONEERS


FLOYD


CARLSON TEST PILOT


BY BRAD MCNALLY


The birth of the helicopter can be attributed to the engineers and designers who had the vision to see something that had never been built before.


However,


the growth of the helicopter should be attributed to the pilots who had the abil- ity to fly a machine that had never been flown before. Without the early helicop- ter test pilots, the helicopter’s unique capabilities would have never been explored. Floyd Carlson is one of these early helicopter pilots and his contribu- tions to the helicopter in the 1940s were instrumental in shaping its future.


For


40 years, Carlson helped define the heli- copter’s limits and find its maximum utility, laying the groundwork for the


helicopters and helicopter operations that we know today. Floyd William Carlson was born on May 4, 1917, in Jamestown, NY. He was the youngest of Sven and Ina Carlson’s seven children. Floyd’s interest in avia- tion began at an early age and he spent much of his time at the Jamestown Airport, which was built and operated by his older brother, Milt. Floyd never received a high school diploma, likely due in part to the fact that he would often skip school and hide in the trunk of his brother’s car to go to the airport. In addition to running the airport, Milt Carlson owned a WWI Jenny trainer air- plane. Floyd would sell tickets for rides


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