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Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky

Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky lived several amazing lives in the eyes of one generation, and each one was great in his own way. His name is associated with different and, moreover, unexpected achievements of design ideas, each time bringing world aviation to a new level. Sikorsky built his first cars at his own expense.

The first flights of Russian airplanes, the first original designs of multi-engine heavy aircraft, the first flying boats and amphibians, the helicopters of the classic single-rotor scheme and much more became possible thanks to Sikorskys talent. After the revolution, he left Russia with pain in his heart. A large part of what he did was the benefit and glory of the United States. The Sikorsky firm, which still exists there, is considered to be the leading helicopter manufacturer. But until the end of his life, Sikorsky remained a patriot of Russia.

He was born on May 25 (June 6), 1889. in Kiev and became the fifth child in the family of a doctor of medicine, a professor at the University. St. Vladimir Ivan Alekseevich Sikorsky. The elder Sikorsky, who gained world fame thanks to numerous works on psychiatry, universal psychology and neuropsychiatric hygiene, turned out to be involved in the scandalous Beilis case.

In 1913 in Kiev, the strange murder of a boy was investigated. The authorities turned to Ivan Alekseevich as a psychiatrist for help. He scrupulously studied all the circumstances and decided to assume that this is a ritual murder. The consequences are known - a wave of anti-Semitism and a violent reaction to this by the Russian intelligentsia. The elder Sikorsky fell ill and no longer returned to the university.

Igor Ivanovich by that time was an established man, he was 24 years old, and all his mental strength was directed at creating the world's first multi-engine aircraft. His father brought him up according to his own methods and gave him devotion to the Church, the Throne and the Fatherland, helped to develop unshakable will and unique perseverance in achieving the goal.

The mother of the future aircraft designer, Maria Stefanovna (nee Temryuk-Cherkasova), who had, like her father, medical education, instilled in little Igor love of music, literature and art. It was from her that he first heard about the projects of the aircraft of the great Leonardo da Vinci. The favorite book was the novel Robur the Conqueror by Jules Verne, which told about a giant airship, a prototype of a helicopter. A flight in an airship once had a dream to him and became a lifelong dream.

He entered the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. However, he is so captured by the idea of ??building an aircraft that he forgets about his studies. He received an engineering degree in 1914 from Honoris Causa at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute for creating multi-engine aircrafts.

Like many other pioneers of aviation, Sikorsky began with flying models. He built his first model at the age of twelve. It was a helicopter - he was already interested in vertically taking off vehicles. In 1908-1909 he consults with leading domestic and foreign experts, visits France and Germany, buys the engine and the necessary parts of the structure. And in July 1909, in the courtyard of his Kiev house, a twenty-year-old student completed the assembly of the first helicopter in Russia, brought to the stage of field tests. However, its lift was still insufficient. In early spring of next year, Sikorsky is building a second helicopter along the same lines. This rotorcraft was able to lift its weight. At the same time, Sikorsky successfully experiments with a snowmobile of his own design.

Together with another student of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, F.I.Bylinkin, at the Kurenevsky airfield in Kiev, Sikorsky is building a barn-workshop, where their first plane, the small two-post biplane BiS-1, is born. Alas, the engine power was not enough for takeoff, it could only jump. For the first time, Sikorsky managed to take to the air only on June 3, 1910, on another machine the BiS-2 (C-2). The capricious Anzani engines did not allow this aircraft, as well as the modifications that followed it, to become truly manned vehicles. But the young designer did not lose hope. The family supported him in all his endeavors.

Success came when in the spring of 1911. the fifth Sikorsky-C-5 aircraft was built, which exceeded the previous ones in size, power and reliability of the power plant. On this biplane, Sikorsky passed the exam for the title of pilot, set four All-Russian records, made demonstration flights, and even rolled passengers.

The undergraduate student received two very flattering proposals from St. Petersburg: firstly, he was invited to the post of chief engineer of the established naval aviation; secondly, to the position of designer of the just-formed aeronautical department of the joint-stock company Russian-Baltic Wagon Works (RBVZ). He accepted both and moved with a group of closest employees from Kiev to the capital of the empire.

Due to this coincidence, Sikorsky managed to make a great contribution to the creation of a special kind of troops - the aviation of the Russian Navy, and he can rightly be considered one of its founders. However, after serving a whole year, he resigned from the naval service, giving himself fully to work at the RBWZ.

He designed a multi-motor, with a crew of several people, and access to the main parts of the structure for air repair was also provided. The possibility of such a gigantic aircraft was rejected at that time by most aviation authorities. Nevertheless, the chairman of the board of the RBWZ supported his twenty-three-year-old chief designer. And in March 1913, the world's first four-engine air giant was built.

First, it received the name S-9 "Grand", and after some improvements - "Russian Knight". The rumor of the air giant rolled through Russia. In Europe, they were surprised and did not believe. Emperor Nicholas expressed a desire to examine him. The plane overtook in the Red Village, the king climbed aboard. Soon Sikorsky was handed a memorable gift from him - a gold watch. The plane, which was superior in size and take-off weight to those still built, marked the beginning of a new direction in aviation - heavy aircraft construction.

The creation of multi-engine giants brought Sikorsky world-wide fame. He became a national hero of Russia. Machines similar to the Russian Knight, appeared abroad only a few years later. The further development of the Russian Knight's design is the four-engine Ilya Muromets. It took to the air already in December 1913. Rearranged to floats, he remained until 1917 the largest seaplane in the world. At RBWZ for the first time in the world, mass production of air giants began.

In addition to heavy bombers, Sikorsky created in 1914-1917. light fighters, naval reconnaissance aircraft, light reconnaissance fighter, twin-engine fighter-bomber and attack aircraft, i.e. almost a full fleet of aircraft of all types used in world war. In addition, under the leadership of Igor Ivanovich, aircraft engines, equipment and weapons were developed and mass-produced; new factories were built for their production. A mighty diversified domestic aviation industry was formed. All in Russia in the years 1909-1917. Sikorsky created two and a half dozen basic models of aircraft (not counting their modifications and joint development), two helicopters, three snowmobiles and one aircraft engine.

The government appreciated the man who multiplied the power and glory of the country. In 25 years, Sikorsky became a knight of the Order of St. Vladimir of the IV degree, equal in value to the Order of St. George, but in the civil sphere. By the age of 28 he was already a national hero. But all this did not turn his head. He was full of creative plans and far from the fuss of the world.

The revolution abruptly changed the fate of the famous designer. From the middle of 1917, all work on the RBWZ almost stopped. None of the aircraft of the new design (S-21 - S-27) was completed.

With the coming of the Bolsheviks to power, the last hopes of restoring the old order had vanished. Igor Ivanovich accepts the invitation of the French government to continue work at the allied plants. Leaving his young wife and the newly-born daughter Tatiana in the care of her relatives, he sailed in March 1918 from Murmansk abroad. In 1919 Igor Ivanovich made a decision to move to the USA, where, as he believed, there were more prospects for heavy aircraft building.

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Page last modified: 20-10-2018 18:44:01 ZULU