1941: A Leading Aviation Pioneer Establishes a Flight Record for Helicopters

April 15, 1941

Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky set a new record when he made the first helicopter flight in the United States as well as the entire Western Hemisphere that lasted more than an hour. He flew a Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter in the skies above his factory in Stratford, Connecticut, and managed to keep that aircraft aloft and motionless there for a total of one hour, five minutes, and 14.5 seconds. The world record of an hour and 20 minutes had been set in Germany in 1937. 

The Associated Press (AP) reported on Sikorsky’s effort to break the record for that category of flight. “Sikorsky went up with only 10 gallons [37.9 liters] of gasoline and had only about 10 minutes’ supply left when he landed,” the AP story recounted. “He said he could have stayed up three times as long had he had enough fuel.” AP also noted, “He indicated he would try for a world record later.”

Only three weeks later, Sikorsky again took to the skies over Stratford in another effort to break the airborne record that had been set in Germany. This time around, Sikorsky succeeded by staying aloft in his VS-300 helicopter for one hour, 32 minutes, and 26.1 seconds. “Sikorsky Nonchalantly Shatters Helicopter Endurance Record,” proclaimed a headline in the next day’s edition of the Wilkes-Barre Record.

For more information on Igor Sikorsky, please check out https://www.nae.edu/189496/IGOR-IVAN-SIKORSKY-18891972

Additional information on the Vought Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter is available at https://www.sikorskyarchives.com/S-46%20_VS-300_%20VS-300A.php

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