TSAR NICHOLAS II’S AEROPLANE MAKER: IGOR SIKORSKY (1889 – 1972)
Born in Kiev (Russian Empire) on May 25, 1889, world famous Russian aircraft engineer, inventor and philosopher Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky was the youngest child of a well-known psychiatrist, professor of the University of Kiev – Ivan Sikorsky and his wife Maria, nee Temryuk-Cherkasova.
From 1903 to 1906 Igor studied at the St. Petersburg Naval Academy. In 1907 he entered the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, where he joined the “Aeronautics Mechanical Circle”. In the next few years, Sikorsky built his first two simple coaxial helicopters. The capacity of the unit built in 1909 reached 9 pounds, and was presented at a two-day aeronautic exhibition in Kiev later that year. None of helicopters built until this point could take off with a pilot, so Sikorsky switched to building airplanes. In January 1910 he tested an aero-sleigh of own design and also flew the first plane of his construction: C-2. The following year he received his pilot license.
In 1912-1914 he created the aircrafts “Grand” and “Ilya Murometz”, initiating a series of multiengine aircrafts. On March 27, 1912 in his biplane “C-6”, Sikorsky managed to set the world’s record speed with two passengers onboard.
Igor Sikorsky was a deeply religious Orthodox scholar. After the Russian revolution, he went into exile and settled in the United States. He continued to participate in the activities of the Orthodox theological, philosophical and Russian monarchist societies and movements. In exile Igor Sikorsky continued to work at the Tolstoy and Pushkin Societies, studied philosophy and theology, and participating in the activities of the monarchist movements.
His first experimental helicopter “Vought-Sikorsky VS-300”, created in the United States, took off on September 14, 1939. Essentially, it was an updated modernized version of Sikorsky’s first Russian helicopter that was created back in 1909 in the Russian Empire.
In 1963 Igor Sikorsky was awarded the highest scientific award of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers – Medal of ASME.
Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky died in 1972 in Easton, CT, and was buried at the Greek Orthodox cemetery of St. John the Baptist in Stratford, CT.