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Army Colonel Douglas Kirkpatrick who, along with Morris, did early helicopter bombing trials. Another student was Dimitry “Jimmy” Viner, a nephew of Igor Sikorsky who made the first civilian helicopter rescue and was later a chief test pilot for Sikorsky Aircraft. Legendary Coast Guard helicopter pilot Frank Erickson also learned to fly helicopters from Morris. Erickson would go on to conduct the first helicopter rescue mission and is now considered the father of Coast Guard rotary-wing aviation. Brigadier General Frank Gregory had learned to fly helicopters before Morris began working for Vought-Sikorsky. However, Morris did give Gregory instruc- tion in the XR-4 and demonstrated many of the helicopters unique capabilities with Gregory as a passenger. Gregory was the helicopter project officer for the Army and was responsible for the contract between the Army and Vought-Sikorsky for the XR-4. Morris also taught Igor Sikorsky’s personal friend Charles Lindbergh to fly the VS-300. Les Morris continued working for Sikorsky as the Chief


Test Pilot and Field Service Manager until 1944. During this time he conducted the majority of the initial test flights on nine different helicopter models, taking eight of them to advanced stages of development (Morris, C. G., 2010). Morris left Sikorsky after what he later described as “an unfortunate misunderstanding between himself and the upper management at Sikorsky Aircraft”. Although Les Morris never


spoke openly in public about the reason for his departure, he did say that the disagreement did not involve Igor Sikorsky and described the situation as “understandable but unfortunate (personal communication with Mr. C. G. Morris, January 2010)”. Following employment at Sikorsky, Morris remained very active in the helicopter industry. He was the Assistant to the President and Director of Field Operations for the short lived Bendix Helicopters and also worked for Kaman Aircraft Corporation for 12 years as an Assistant Vice President, Field Service Manager and Chief Staff Engineer. Morris was a char- ter member and the second president of the American Helicopter Society (AHS). After retiring from the helicopter industry Morris stayed active in promoting and recording heli- copter history. Morris co-founded and served as the president of the Twirly Birds, an organization for helicopter pioneers and pilots. In his later years, he also worked for Sikorsky Aircraft as a consultant on helicopter history. Morris helped document the early years of the helicopter by narrating a Helicopter Association International video on helicopter development and writing a book titled “Pioneering the Helicopter”. The book was first published in 1945, and chronicles the early develop- ment of the Sikorsky VS-300 and XR-4. It includes first-hand accounts of Morris’s test flights and a unique perspective on how Igor Sikorsky and his team developed the first North American helicopters. For his tremendous contributions to


Above: In this 1980s photo, Les Morris stands next to the Sikorsky XR-4 on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This aircraft is the same one that Morris flew from the Sikorsky factory in Connecticut to Ohio in 1942. Photo: Courtesy of the collection of Mr. Charles G. Morris


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