Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I have always been interested in aviation (and golf and history and politics).   Indeed I can, along with every other pilot, recount in boring and exquisite detail every moment of my 'first solo' including the perfect three point landing although, to the more dispassionate observer, it probably resembled something akin to Barnes Wallis' Bouncing bomb first used in Operation Chastise (the Dambusters raid) .... I digress.

For whatever reason no great acknowledgement has ever been given to the Russians for the quite outstanding work they did in pioneering aviation design and practice pre WW1 led by Igor Ivanovich Sikorski (1889-1972).   
In 1911 only two years after Bleriot first flew the English Channel and when no known aircraft could lift more than 600kg Sikorski designed the S21 Russky Vitvaz pictured below .....


It was the worlds first four engine passenger airliner and was a decade plus ahead of its time.    It has a crew of three along with an enclosed cabin which could take up to seven passengers.   It first flew on 10 May 1913 and it was quickly established that a person could move around the cabin without affecting aircraft stability.   It had a maxium speed of 90 kph, a range of 170 km and a operational ceiling of 600m.  

It was was crushed on 23 June 1913 when hit by an engine that fell off another aircraft on landing. Sikorski decided against repairing it and instead turned his attention to designing the S22 and S23 variants, the Ilya Muromets, which first flew in December 1913 and served both as a passenger and freight aircraft and as a heavy bomber and remained in service until 1922.   The cabin in the Ilya Muromets (passenger aircraft) was insulated and fitted with heating and electric light and incorporated both a bed and a toilet/washroom.

Sikorski later emigrated to the United States where he continued his pioneering work which included designing the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today.     The Sikorski R-4 was the worlds first mass-produced helicopter in 1942.

1 comment:

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Well well well.

The Antonov of its day, no less.