Meet the legend: Ukrainian aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky

Author : Oleh Shama

Source : 112 Ukraine

Igor Sikorsky created multiengined airliner and bomber, and launched a series of new powerful weapon - helicopters
21:10, 6 June 2016

Read the original text at NV.UA.

Robur, the hero of the science fiction novel by Jules Verne (1886), urged the scientific community and the readers: "The flying bird is actually nothing more than a screw, and her flight is the flight of a helicopter. That's why the engine future of is the screw".

Three years after the novel Robur the Conqueror appeared on bookshelves in Paris, a boy was born in Kyiv, for whom this book has become a favorite one. His name is Igor Sikorsky. The future aircraft designer had fulfilled many predictions of Jules Verne. And the helicopters brought him fame.

Sikorsky, as well as his creations, has passed a complex path all over the globe. He first hit the skies in Kyiv, where he set up the first world records. In St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire at that time, the mass production of airplanes began.

Now Sikorsky helicopters are used by the US Air Force and US presidential security since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Four-engine airplane Ilya Muromets, whereon Sikorsky made a passenger flight from Petersburg to Kyiv in 1914

By the screw or by the wing

"No military discipline," that was one of the conclusions of the examination committee of the Marine Corps in St. Petersburg concerning the cadet Igor Sikorsky after his second year of study.

Parents of the future aircraft designer wanted their son to be a naval officer, but these hopes were dispelled by the poor health of their offspring. Sikorskyrecalls that sharp weather changes caused a nose bleeding, and the slightest undercooling guaranteed him bed rest. Besides textbooks on military theory, Igor preferred books on mechanics. Therefore, immediately after the end of the Marine Corps, in 1907 Sikorsky entered the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute.

The same year French engineers Louis Breguet and Paul Cornu built the first helicopter prototypes. They were able to pick up their machinery a few meters above the ground. And this achievement was discussed in all engineering and technical community.

In the summer of 1908, Sikorsky and his father, a professor at the University of Kyiv, the famous psychiatrist, visited Germany. The local daily newspaper reported excitedly about even the most minor tests of the aircraft worldwide. And especially about the American brothers Wright, who are considered the creators ofworld's first successful airplane.

After returning to Kyiv, Sikorsky gave up his studies at the institute, and all his time spent in an improvised studio in the courtyard of his parents' house. A couple of months later, he asked for the money for a trip to Paris. He needed a motor to build his helicopter on. The family lived in prosperity, and the head of the family decided to support the son.

The young engineer without a special education had been mastering his helicopter in the courtyard. However, he did not manage to surpass the French inventors; Sikorsky’s rotorcraft with a heavy engine barely took off the ground.

On a large field (in Kyiv region), Sikorsky together with his friends built a hangar, where they built the first airplane. The flight took place on June 3, 1910. The airplane has risen by 1.5 meters; and during 12 seconds it flew over 200 m.

Sikorsky made 4 records within the territory of the Russian Empire: height 500 m, range - 85 km with three landings for refueling, flight duration - 52 minutes, speed - 125 km/h.

FAMILY: Igor Sikorsky (right) with his brother Serhiy and sisters Olga, Lydia, and Olena. 1906


1. The first known ancestor of the engineer - Grygoriy Sekora - descended from the Cossacks

A dream came true: Igor Sikorsky tests his first helicopter in Bridgeport, 1940

2. Ivan Sikorsky, aircraft designer's father, was the leader of the psychiatric science in the Russian Empire. 

3. The first marriage lasted a few months, Sikorsky's wife left him, leaving the infant daughter Tatiana. 

Related: Another side of Ukraine: strange and funny facts

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