MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES—MAKING SURE THEY COULD ACTUALLY FLY
I have great respect for the early pioneers of aviation, not only because of their ingenuity, but because of their sheer courage. They had the guts to fly in machines which, by definition, were unproven—because they had only just been invented.
I have already commented on Frank Piasecki in that regard. This is Igor Sikorski in action.
In 1939 Sikorsky designed and flew the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, the first viable American helicopter, which pioneered the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today. Sikorsky would modify the design into the Sikorsky R-4, which became the world's first mass-produced helicopter in 1942.
Piasecki pioneered tandem rotor helicopter designs and created the compound helicopter concept of vectored thrust using a ducted propeller. A photo of Piasecki’s tandem (two) rotor design is at the bottom of this article.
By all accounts there was not only rivalry between the two men, but bad blo0d. Well, I guess that should not be surprising. Silorski was a Russian and Piacecki a Pole. In fact, around the time both men were developing the first flying helicopters, Hitler made an agreement with Stalin to divide Poland between them.