Igor Sikorsky the Aviation Pioneer Speaks

On Aviation in the Early 1920's:

"At that time aviation was very dangerous and the greatest danger was starvation. The best chance for a good meal was an invitation as an after dinner speaker."

To a young, nervous pilot on his second or third solo flight:

"Young man, when I started to fly, we did not know if the airplane or the pilot was capable of flight. In your case, 50% of the problem has been solved"

To a 16 year old aviatrix Elinor Smith:

"It is much better to learn (flying) while young. One is so unaware of what is impossible."
"Never promise a customer anything you are not sure you can achieve."
"According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumblebee can't fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know the laws of aerodynamics, so it goes ahead and flies."

Charles Lindberg and the Spirit of St. Louis 1927
"America can be proud of the pioneering period, which (the Wright brothers) started, was completed and closed by another great American, Charles Lindbergh, and his wonderful flight of May 21, 1927. Before his flight, aviation was a hobby...after his flight, it became a profession."

Sikorsky S-38 Nine Seat Commercial Amphibian 1928

"The aeronautical engineer always struggles with what might be termed a three-cornered problem. He must get speed, load capacity, and flying range and to accent any one, he must sacrifice the other."
Sikorsky S-40 1931
"We feel justified in considering the American Clipper (S-40) the forerunner of a series of other glorious clipper ships that established American airline operation across all the oceans."

On Being An American:

Igor Sikorsky and Orville Wright by XR-4 1942

In response to a request from the Associated Press on April 20, 1941 as part of "I am an American Day" Igor responded as follows:

"I am happy to be an American because this great country is the stronghold of liberty and progress; because here each citizen can arrange his life and family as he wants; can express freely any beliefs or opinions that he may have without fear of persecution or intimidation. I am proud to be an American because this great country always has been the traditional carrier of idealism, good will, and help all over the world wherever there is need or suffering. For myself and my four American-born sons, I am happy and proud to be a citizen of this great, powerful, free country that has no reason to envy or fear any country in the world."

Helicopter Patent Sketch 1930
"A flying machine rising directly from the ground by the action of a lifting propeller was most appealing to my imagination."
"The whole art of aeronautics, all of man's accumulated experience in mechanical flight, has contributed to the development of direct-lift operation."
"The helicopter approaches closer than any other (vehicle) to fulfillment of mankind's ancient dream of the flying horse and the magic carpet."

VS-300 First Flight 1939
"In September (1939), the helicopter made its first flight. The "first flight" is somewhat of an ambitious term, but anyway the ship is off the ground probably 3" to 5" high, probably for a few seconds... that was all."
"During the very earliest flight we extensively used slow motion (filming) and this was for two reasons. One- the ship...was rather unsteady and the slow motion changed this to a considerably less risky and less bumpy flight. Another thing...due to slow motion the very short flights looked much longer - about twice longer - which was good. Now, a little later, the slow motion no longer was necessary because we could produce reasonably long flights."

R-4 with Igor Sikorsky and USCG CDR Frank Erickson
"It would be right to state that, with the successful flight of the XR-4 in the summer of 1942, the helicopter became a reality in the United States."
"Two rotors are like two women in the kitchen; you might think they would do twice as much work, but the efficiency of each is lowered by 35 percent."

USCG HH-60J Rescue in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina
"For me, the greatest source of comfort and satisfaction is the fact that our helicopters have saved up to the present time (1969) over fifty thousand lives and still continue with their rescue missions. I consider this to be the most glorious page in the history of aviation." (Today, as of 2012, the number is close to two million lives saved.)
"The many interesting flight activities and great variety of service rendered by the helicopter are well known, the most important being the saving of many thousands of lives."
"It would be right to say that the helicopter's role in saving lives represents one of the most glorious pages in the history of human flight"
"We, the designers and builders of airplanes, would be building something useless and worthless if it wouldn't be for the skill and courage of our airmen."
"If a man is in need of rescue, an airplane can come in and throw flowers on him, and that's just about all. But a direct lift aircraft could come in and save his life."
Neil Armstrong -First Moon Landing 1969

"Engineering is a living branch of human activity and its frontiers are by no means exhausted."
"The list of impossibilities, for aviation could go on and on, and only as time and the unexpectedly brilliant development of flying progressed, was it finally recognized that the most dangerous forecast in aviation is to predict the impossibility of something."

VH-3D Helicopter departing the White House

"Here in America, I found the confirmation of my hopes and came to understand the reason for success of this great country - It was the free initiative and free work of a free people. It was the result of the fundamental idea of...'Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...'. This has been, and still remains, the wisest and most constructive formula upon which a free, progressive, and successful human society can be founded."
"In respect to the problem of free take-off and free landing on any spot on the earth, the aeroplane proved to be the most hopeless vehicle ever designed."
Sikorsky X2 Technology(TM) Demonstration Helicopter

"In improving the situation, science and human intellect are capable of performing miraculous work, provided only that they are guided and directed by the intellect of the higher order - spiritual wisdom. Without such guidance, science and intellect are absolutely blind and completely unreliable."

Igor Sikorsky deep in thought

"Truth in politics is optional - Truth in engineering is mandatory."


Last Update: November 6, 2012