Machine Design

75 years of Innovators: Igor Sikorsky

Russian-born Igor Sikorsky is responsible for the first helicopter, the VS-300.

In the 75 years since Machine Design began publication, here are some of the people who have changed the way we live.

Igor Sikorsky
Father of rotary-wing aircraft

After failing with an early concept of the helicopter, Sikorsky focused his talents on fixed-wing aircraft. He created the first multiengine plane, the four-engine "The Grand." This led to the design of an even larger aircraft called the "Ilia Mourometz," named after a legendary 10th Century Russian hero. More than 70 military versions of the Mourometz were built as bombers during World War I.

Sikorsky came to America and, together with help from his emigrant friends, founded the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corp. This venture produced the S-29-A, a twin-engine all-metal transport plane that later became the modern airliner. Other planes included the twin-engine S-38 amphibian used for routes to Central and South America; the Flying Clippers that pioneered commercial flight across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; and finally the S-44, which delivered the fastest trans-Atlantic passage for years.

Sikorsky eventually turned back to creating the helicopter and, in 1939, got the concept VS-300 a few feet off the ground. In 1943, with military contracts flowing in, large-scale manufacture of the R-4 made it the world's first production helicopter.

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