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Igor Sikorsky
Sikorsky, Igor.jpg
Studio portrait, c. 1950
Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky

(1889-05-25)May 25, 1889
Died October 26, 1972(1972-10-26) (aged 83)
Nationality Russian-American
Alma mater Kiev Polytechnic Institute
Occupation Aircraft designer
Known for First successful mass-produced helicopter
Spouse(s) Olga Fyodorovna Simkovitch
Elisabeth Semion
Children Tania, Sergei, Nikolai, Igor, George
Awards Order of St. Vladimir
Howard N. Potts Medal (1933)
Daniel Guggenheim Medal (1951)
ASME Medal (1963)
Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy (1966)
National Medal of Science (1967)
John Fritz Medal (1968)

Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky (Игорь Иванович Сикорский; 25 May, 188926 October, 1972) was a Russian pioneer of aviation who designed the first four-engine aeroplanes and the first successful helicopter of the most common configuration (single main rotor with tail rotor).


Igor Sikorsky was born in Kiev, Russian Empire (now Ukraine) and studied at the Naval War College in St. Petersburg (1903-1906) and in Kiev Politechnic Institute (1907-1909), but he didn't finish formal studies. In 1914 he was awarded the Degree in Engineering "Honoris Causa" by St.Petersburg Politechnic Institute.

His early work included the construction, as chief engineer, of the first four-motor aircraft, the Bolshoi Baltiski. He was also the test pilot for its first flight, on 13 May, 1913. Sikorsky's planes were used by Russia as bombers in World War I (see Ilya Muromets) and he was decorated with the Cross of St. Vladimir.

In 1919 Sikorsky emigrated from Russia to the United States seeing little opportunity for himself as an aircraft designer in Europe, torn by the war, and, particularly in Russia, ravaged by the Revolution and Civil War.

In the US Sikorsky first worked as a school teacher and a lecturer looking for an opportunity in aviation industry. In 1923, helped by several former Russian army officers, he formed the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Company. In 1928, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1929 Sikorsky Aero Engineering Company was purchased by and became a subsidiary of United Aircraft, itself now a part of United Technologies Corporation. The company manufactured flying boats such as the S-42, used by Pan Am for trans-atlantic flights and known as Pan Am Clippers.

Sikorsky had experimented with helicopter-type flying machines while in Russia. He brought his work to fruition on 24 May 1940 with the first flight of the Vought-Sikorsky 300, a machine with a single three-blade rotor powered by a 75 horsepower (56 kW) engine. This was not, in the history of aviation, the first successful helicopter to fly but it was the first of the configuration that would later become the most popular. Another one of his helicopters is the Sikorsky Seahawk.

The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation continues to the present day as one of the world's leading helicopter manufacturers.

Since his death, his office at Sikorsky Aircraft has been left exactly as it was when he died.

Personal life

Sikorsky, Sergei, HeliRussia 2011
Sergei Sikorsky at the HeliRussia 2011 Exhibition in Moscow

Sikorsky was married to Olga Fyodorovna Simkovitch in the Russian Empire. They were divorced and Olga remained in Russia with their daughter, Tania, as Sikorsky departed after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. In 1923, Sikorsky's sisters immigrated to the US, bringing six-year-old Tania with them. Sikorsky married Elisabeth Semion (1903–1995) in 1924, in New York. Sikorsky and Elisabeth had four sons; Sergei, Nikolai, Igor Jr. and George.

  • Tania Sikorsky von York (March 1, 1918 – September 22, 2008), Sikorsky's eldest child and only daughter. Tania was born in Kyiv. Educated in the US, she earned a B.A. at Barnard College and a doctorate at Yale University. She was one of the original faculty members of Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she served as Professor of Sociology for 20 years.
  • Sergei Sikorsky (1925– ), Sikorsky's eldest son. He joined United Technologies in 1951, and retired in 1992, as Vice-President of Special Projects at Sikorsky Aircraft.
  • Igor Sikorsky Jr. is an attorney, businessman and aviation historian. Igor Sikorsky III is also a pilot.

Sikorsky died at his home in Easton, Connecticut, on October 26, 1972, and is buried in Saint John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cemetery located on Nichols Avenue in Stratford.


15-a Yaroslaviv Val, Kiev (Sikorsky House)
The Sikorsky's family house in Kyiv's historical center, October 2009

In 1966, Sikorsky was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

Sikorsky's and Andrei Tupolev's professional careers were covered in the 1979 Soviet biopic The Poem of Wings (Russian: Поэма о крыльях) where Sikorsky was portrayed by Yury Yakovlev. A working model of Sikorsky Ilya Muromets was recreated for filming.

The Sikorsky Memorial Bridge, which carries the Merritt Parkway across the Housatonic River next to the Sikorsky corporate headquarters, is named for him. Sikorsky has been designated a Connecticut Aviation Pioneer by the Connecticut State Legislature. The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, Connecticut, continues to the present day as one of the world's leading helicopter manufacturers, and a nearby small airport has been named Sikorsky Memorial Airport.

Sikorsky was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1987.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Ígor Sikorski para niños

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