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Above: Les Morris is shown testing the partial azimuth control system on an early version of the VS-300. The second horizontal rotor mounted on the tail was used to control the pitch of the helicopter. Opposite: Les Morris demonstrates the close quarters maneuvering ability of the VS-300. Photo: Courtesy of the collection of Mr. Charles G. Morris


Long Island. This introduction to avi- ation had a profound effect on his life and would lead him to help pioneer rotary-wing flight. In 1931, Les Morris was appointed as the Connecticut Commissioner of Aeronautics. Morris was only 22 at the time of his appoint- ment, making him one of the youngest people ever to head a department in a state government (Morris, C. G., 2010). He would be reappointed to this position twice. During his time as Commissioner, Morris would serve as the president of the National Association of State Aviation Officials and be a member of several Department of Commerce and Civil Aviation Authority advisory boards and commis- sions. In all, Les Morris held this posi- tion for a total of 10 years. His greatest and most long lasting achievement as Commissioner of Aeronautics was establishing the plans and location for


ROTORCRAFTPROFESSIONAL


Bradley International Airport which is situated outside of Hartford, CT. In 1939, while Morris was serving as the Connecticut Commissioner of Aeronautics, Dr. Igor Sikorsky was beginning to realize success developing the first North American helicopter. Morris and Sikorsky would cross paths when both were scheduled speakers at a private pilots meeting in Washington, D.C. Dr. Sikorsky asked Morris to pay a visit to the Vought-Sikorsky facility so he could solicit advice from Morris on helicopter development (Morris, C. L., 1945). Although surprised at the invi- tation, Morris eagerly accepted as he had an interest in helicopters and understood the unique capabilities that an aircraft capable of vertical flight could offer. Several weeks after the meeting in Washington, D.C., Les Morris visited Igor Sikorsky at the Vought-Sikorsky factory then located in


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Stratford, CT. The two men discussed the helicopter and Morris was captivat- ed by Sikorsky’s enthusiasm and deter- mination. On a subsequent visit, Les Morris made it known to Igor Sikorsky that he was extremely interested in heli- copter development and would like to get out of public service and work in the private aviation sector. Morris even went so far as to ask Dr. Sikorsky to consider him for any job openings at Vought-Sikorsky that he was qualified for (Morris, C. L., 1945). Dr. Sikorsky indicated that he would keep Morris in mind for future employment. On May 29, 1940 the VS-300 made its first public flight demonstra- tions. As Commissioner of Aeronautics, Les Morris was invited to witness the demonstration. Morris had been fol- lowing Sikorsky’s helicopter progress very closely, but up until that point had not seen the VS-300 fly in person.


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