The fate of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is currently about as uncertain as the early dreams of its founder, but Igor Sikorsky was never far from the leading innovations of his time.
The parent company of the Coatesville commercial helicopter maker is on the verge of parting ways with a near-century-long relationship with United Technologies, which bought into Sikorsky’s dreams in 1929 after earlier designs failed to materialize in Russia.
“In his aviation career, Igor Sikorsky was certainly one of the early pioneers,” Sikorsky Historical Archives President Dan Libertino said in an Aviation Pros feature. “He helped make aviation what it was today.”
Until United, Sikorsky found work designing fixed-wing aircraft until he turned a New York chicken farm into the Sikorsky Aviation Co.
“The helicopter dream never left his mind,” Libertino said in the article. “No matter what he was doing when he was working on fixed-wing aircraft, he had helicopters on his mind.”
His big break came with $50,000 from United Aircraft to design a helicopter, and he took it from a working prototype in 1939 to a combat rescue operation in 1944.
The legacy of that development is epitomized by Sikorsky’s production of Marine One for every president from Eisenhower to Obama, and later innovations have brought helicopters into the search and rescue, corporate transportation, police and fire, tourism and media industries, the article noted.
“Think about what he accomplished,” Libertino said. “First four-engine aircraft in the world, flying boats that opened up the Atlantic and the Pacific, and the helicopter speaks for itself every day, saving lives. We should all exit our life fulfilling the dreams we had.”