Today, 80 years ago, on September 14th, 1938, a little piece of helicopter history took off for the very first time. Okay, to be fair; it was attached to cables when it flew, and it wouldn’t fly free up until May 1940, but still: It flew.
We are talking about the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, an American single-engine helicopter designed by Igor Sikorsky himself which became the first successful single lifting rotor helicopter in the United States and the first successful helicopter to use a single vertical-plane tail rotor configuration. And as the VS-300 was developed into the Sikorsky R-4, what became the world’s first production helicopter, it’s fair to say that the VS-300 played a significant role at the beginning of the world’s helicopter industry.
VS-300 with floats
Sikorsky also fitted utility floats to the VS-300 and performed a water landing and takeoff on 17 April 1941, making it the first practical amphibious helicopter. On 6 May 1941, Sikorsky set a new endurance record of one hour, 32 minutes and 26 seconds with the VS-300. In the following period until December 8, 1941, the helicopter underwent many technical changes. The final version of the VS-300 - powered by a 150 hp Franklin engine - flew a total of 102 hours, 35 minutes and 51 seconds and was one of the first helicopters capable of carrying cargo.
In 1943, the VS-300 was retired to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. It has been on display there ever since, except for a trip back to the Sikorsky Aircraft plant for restoration in 1985.
This little history lesson today, I dedicate to @RotorGuy. Thanks to him, I was eager to learn a little bit more about helicopters, and when I saw this anniversary today, I decided that it’s worth a thread.
Have a good day or night, and many happy landings!
- Wikipedia, Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, September 14th, 2019
- Sikorsky Archives, VS-300 Helicopter, September 14th, 2019