Ukrainian-born US engineer. He built the first successful Helicopter in 1939 (commercially produced from 1943). His first biplane flew in 1910, and in 1929 he began to construct multi-engined flying boats.
The first helicopter was followed by a whole series of production designs using one, then two, piston engines. During the late 1950s piston engines were replaced by the newly developed gas-turbine engines.
Sikorsky was born in Kiev and was inspired to make a helicopter by the notebooks of Italian Renaissance inventor Leonardo da Vinci. In 1908 he met US aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright in France, and in 1909 Sikorsky began to construct his first helicopter, but had to abandon his attempts until better materials and engines became available.
Instead, he built fixed-wing aeroplanes and began a lifelong practice of taking the controls on the first flight. In 1911 his S-5 aeroplane flew for more than an hour and achieved altitudes of 450 m/1,480 ft. His aeroplanes Le Grand and the even larger Ilia Mourometz had four engines, an enclosed cabin for crew and passengers, and even a toilet. They became the basis for the four-engined bomber that Russia used during World War I.
Following the revolution, he emigrated to the USA 1918. He founded the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation, which was taken over by the United Aircraft Corporation. Sikorsky continued to work as a designer and engineering manager until 1957. His S-40 American Clipper flying boat 1931 allowed Pan American Airways to develop routes in the Caribbean and South America.
Igor Sikorsky – One Man, Three Careers