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Igor Sikorsky was born in May 1889 in Kiev, Russian Empire currently known as Ukraine. He was a Russian aviation pioneer in both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters (Eveleth, & Sellers, 2001). The first successes brought his legacy in the aviation industry by the S-2 which was the second aircraft made from his construction and design. Further, S-5, his fifth aircraft made Igor Sikorsky win national recognition as well as a license number 64 from the football association of Ireland (F.A.I) club. Additionally, during the Moscow Aviation Exhibition in 1912, his S-6-A got the highest award. In the same year during the military competition at Saint Petersburg, the aircraft also won an award for the youngest designer and pilot. In 1919, Igor Sikorsky immigrated to the United States and where he founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1923. Although in the 1930s Louis Breguet, a French and Heinrich Focke, a German had created main advancements in the design of the helicopter in Europe, upon immigrating to the United States, Igor Sikorsky eventually made more significant developments. Igor Sikorsky is however not credited for inventing solutions to the underlying problems that control helicopters in a flight, but he is considered as the individual who created an improvement to the existing technology and thus making the helicopter operational.
In the 1930s Igor Sikorsky developed the first transport aircraft and the ocean-conquering flying boats for the Pan American Airways. Then, the Sikorsky Aviation Corporation situated in Bridgeport, Connecticut which was his company became a subsidiary of the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation which was a giant firm in that time (Eveleth, & Sellers, 2001). Nonetheless, the United Craft sought to close down Sikorsky's company in 1938 with the aim to cut costs, but Sikorsky was granted permission to expand his research on helicopters and further start working on an experimental vehicle. In 1939, Igor Sikorsky designed the Vought-Sikorsky-300 (VS-300) in spring which was later developed in summer. The VS-300 was built on an open welded tubular steel frame that had three-wheeled landing gear, 28 feet in diameter three-bladed rotor mounted at the top, and a two-bladed vertical rotor attached at the tail. Igor Sikorsky flew the VS-300 for the first time in the 14th September 1939, but the aircraft had excessive vibrations. He made relentless modifications to reduce the vibrations in the aircraft, and by November 1939 it would make flights lasting up to two minutes. In December, the craft got seriously damaged as a gust of wind knocked it and the rotor blades were smashed to the ground (Wyckoff, 2011).
Upon making significant modifications to the craft, it made its first successful flight in May 1940, and by the mid-1940, the VS-300 could sustain a flight up to 15 minutes. In December 1940, Igor Sikorsky was awarded a contract by the United States Army Air Corps to construct the XR-4 which was an experimental helicopter bigger that the VS-300. In the subsequent year, Igor Sikorsky continued to improve his craft by undertaking 18 different configurations (Sikorskii, 2007). The VS-300 broke the world helicopter endurance record in 6th may 1941, by sustaining a flight of up to 1 hour, 32 minutes and 26 seconds. The record was currently held by the Focke-Achgelis Fa-61. After eliminating the horizontal outriggers that held the tail rotors and further adding a vertical tail motor, the performance of VS-300 improved drastically, and it could fly successfully at a speed of 113 kilometres per hour.
Igor Sikorsky wheeled the XR-4 on 14th January 1942, and it began to make some short hops, and in May 1942, the aircraft was ready for delivery to the US Army Air Corps. With the help of his pilot, Sikorsky navigated the craft to Wright Field in Ohio the delivery point. The together navigated the trip via reading the signs along the highway and by asking directions from the nearby motorists (Wyckoff, 2011). The Army was impressed, and they began the contract to produce aircraft by ordering Sikorsky to build a larger model, and in April 1943, the Army requested Sikorsky for another version of the aircraft. The maintained the production contract, and by the end of the World war II, Sikorsky had produced and delivered up to 400 helicopters to the US Army.
The Sikorsky's VS-300 remains significant in the aviation industry. It was the first aircraft that operated successfully without requiring two counter-rotating motors to cancel the torque but rather used a tail motor to provide a push in the other direction opposite from the torque. It thus made the helicopter less complicated, become lighter, and hence became easier to control, and maybe more importantly, the VS-300 paved the way for the construction and the design of the modern helicopter as it was still more in use decades later as compared to the predecessors. Unlike other pioneers in the aviation industry such as Louis Breguet and Heinrich Focke, Igor Sikorsky continued to build his legacy by maintaining the desire to build helicopters (Sikorskii, 2007). Eventually, Sikorsky became the world most renowned helicopter manufacturer. Igor Sikorsky died in the 26th October 1972 in Easton, Connecticut at the age of 83 years. Up to date, Sikorsky Aircraft is regarded as the oldest helicopter company across the globe.
Eveleth, E. L., & Sellers, G. E. (2001). A documentary of Igor Sikorsky: As narrated to lifetime friend and aviation consultant Edmund L. "Skip" Eveleth. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing.
Sikorskii, S. I. (2007). The Sikorsky legacy. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub.
Wyckoff, E. B. (2011). Helicopter man: Igor Sikorsky and his amazing invention. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow.
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