Sikorsky, Igor I.


Inventor of the helicopter and the flying boat popularized by Pan American Airways in the 30s


Type: Signed card
Description: (1889-1972) Ukrainian-American aviation pioneer in helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. His 1st success came with the S-2, his 2nd designed and built aircraft. His 5th airplane, the S-5, won him national recognition and F.A.I. license #64. His S-6-A won the highest award at the 1912 Moscow Aviation Exhibition, and that fall it won 1st prize in the St. Petersburg military competition. To the US 1919, he founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. 1923, developing the 1st Pan American Airways’ ocean-crossing flying boats in the 30s. In 1939, Sikorsky designed and flew the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, 1st viable American helicopter, which pioneered the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today. Sikorsky modified the design into the Sikorsky R-4, the world’s 1st mass-produced helicopter in 1942.

Sikorsky enrolled at the Mechanical College of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in 1907 and accompanied his father to Germany in summer 1908 and learned of the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers and Ferdinand von Zeppelin.

By the start of WW I, his airplane research and production business in Kyiv flourished, his factory made bombers for the war. He fled to France after the Bolshevik Revolution began in 1917, offered a contract to design a new, more powerful Muromets-type plane. In Nov. 1918 the war ended, the French ended subsidizing military orders, and he moved to the US.

Sikorsky’s 1st aircraft of his own design, the S-1, used a 15 hp Anzani 3-cylinder fan engine in a pusher configuration that could not lift the aircraft. His 2nd design, the S-2, was powered by a 25 hp Anzani engine in a tractor configuration and first flew on June 3, 1910 at a height of a few feet. On June 30 he reached an altitude of 60-80’ before it stalled, crashed, and was completely destroyed. Later, Sikorsky built the 2-seat S-5, his 1st design not based on other European aircraft, earning pilot license FAI #64, issued by the Imperial Aero Club of Russia in 1911. During a demonstration of the S-5, Sikorsky had to crash land and was convinced of the need for an aircraft that could continue flying if it lost an engine. His next aircraft, the S-6, held 3 passengers and won the Feb. 1912 Russian Army Moscow aircraft exhibition. 

In 1912, Sikorsky became Chief Engineer of the aircraft division of St. Petersburg’s Russian Baltic Railroad Car Works, and built the 1st 4-cylinder aircraft, the S-21, “Russky Vityaz”. He flew its 1st flight May 13, 1913, awarded an honorary engineering degree from St. Petersburg Polytechnical Institute 1914. He then developed the S-22 Ilya Muromets airliner, redesigned as the world’s 1st 4-engine bomber for WW I.

Seeing little opportunity as an aircraft designer in war-torn Europe, particularly Russia, ravaged by revolution and civil war, he immigrated to the US in 1919. In 1932, he joined the faculty of the University of Rhode Island to form an aeronautical engineering program, remaining to 1948. 

In 1923, Sikorsky formed the Sikorsky Manufacturing Co. in Roosevelt, NY. He produced the S-29, one of the 1st twin-engine aircraft in the US, with a capacity for 14 passengers and a speed of 115 mph. In 1928, he became a US citizen. In July 1929, his company moved to Connecticut, becoming part of United Aircraft and Transportation Corp. (now, United Technologies Corp.). The company  built flying boats, such as the Pan Am S-42 “Clipper” used for transatlantic flights. 

Sikorsky continued his earlier work on vertical flight. On Feb. 14, 1929, he applied to patent a “direct lift” amphibian aircraft which used compressed air to power a direct lift “propeller” and 2 smaller propellers for thrust. Sikorsky was awarded patent No. 1,994,488 March 19, 1935 for another “direct lift aircraft”. His design led to the 1st (tethered) flight of the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 Sept. 14, 1939, 1st free flight May 24, 1940. His success with the VS-300 led to the R-4, the world’s 1st mass-produced helicopter, in 1942. His final VS-300 rotor configuration, a single main rotor and a single antitorque tail rotor, is used in most helicopters today.

In 1966, Sikorsky was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame 1987. The street on which US Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine is, was named for Sikorsky in 2011; in 2018, the Kyiv International Airport was named for him. In 2013, Flying magazine ranked him #12 on its list of the 51 Heroes of Aviation. 

Signed silver-edged 3 x 5 card, dated Nov. 28, 1949 by Sikorsky.

Condition: Very good

Product Search

Product categories

Quick Links