This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Above: Les Morris is shown at the controls of the Sikorsky XR-6 during an early test flight. Photo: Courtesy of the collection of Mr. Charles G. Morris

rotary-wing flight, the American Helicopter Society made Les Morris an Honorary Fellow in 1971. Morris passed away in 1991 at the age of 82.

Les Morris was a not only a pioneer in helicopter develop- ment but also a pioneer in helicopter test piloting. Although he arrived at Sikorsky after the first North American helicopter had already successfully flown, he was in time to participate in the extensive test and evaluation period that followed. Through his thorough evaluation and reporting, Morris helped test and refine many design characteristics on the VS-300. The infor- mation collected from these test flights was invaluable and guid- ed helicopter development for many years. Morris was also instrumental in the development of the first production heli- copter, the R-4. Les Morris’s many unofficial helicopter records are only a small part of his pioneering contributions to rotary-winged flight. Morris pushed the helicopter to do things once thought impossible by many. He piloted an aircraft that was not only experimental, but was so much so, that at times nearly every move he made established new boundaries for hel- icopter operations in North America. Morris was one of the

first to show how the helicopter’s unique capabilities could be utilized for confined area landings, precision maneuvering, extended cross country flight and over water flight, all common operations today. Les Morris played an important part in help- ing to launch Sikorsky Aircraft on a path that would lead it to being one of the premier helicopter manufacturer’s in the world, a position that it still holds today. He also held key posi- tions at several other manufacturers during the early days of the helicopter. When his time flying and developing helicopters was over, Morris was a central figure in preserving and chroni- cling helicopter history and heritage. Morris undoubtedly played a key role in helicopter development in the 1940s and has left a lasting mark on rotary-wing flight, making him a true Rotorcraft Pioneer. ◆


Morris, C. G. (2010). Morris Ancestry: Vol. I - Mayflower Lines. Ann Arbor, MI: Sheridan Books.

Morris, C. L., (1945). Pioneering the Helicopter. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.

LT Brad McNally is a 2001graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy. After serving two tours in Coast Guard Naval Engineering he attended Naval Flight Training in Pensacola, Florida. He was previously station at the Coast Guard Air Station in Atlantic City, NJ

where he was an aircraft commander in the MH-65C Dolphin helicopter. He currently resides in

West Lafayette, IN with his wife Monica and son Brett where he is assigned as a graduate student at Purdue University pursuing a Masters Degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

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