Sikorsky And Other Pioneering Aviation Families Support Lindbergh’s LEAP Program


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Sikorsky And Other Pioneering Aviation Families Support Lindbergh’s LEAP Program

By Eddy Metcalf

April 17, 2011 - Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) organization representatives announce details of a joint initiative that continues the historic relationship between the Sikorsky and Lindbergh namesakes, during a press conference on Thursday at the AERO Friedrichshafen air show in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Sergei Sikorsky, son of company founder Igor Sikorsky, was among the representatives of aviation’s “first families” that participated in promotional events to benefit Erik Lindbergh’s nonprofit group, LEAP. Other participants included members of the Wright, Zeppelin, Piccard, and Dornier families.  

Sikorsky Innovations, the company’s technology development organization charged with tackling the toughest problems in vertical flight, along with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, were co-sponsors of the LEAP forum at AERO.

Sergei Sikorsky, son of company founder Igor Sikorsky.

Erik Lindbergh, grandson of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh, founded LEAP to promote solutions to social, technical, and environmental challenges through prize philanthropy and education. LEAP awards the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize to recognize those who are leading advances in electric aircraft technology, which this year was awarded during the AERO show as part of the E-Flight symposium.  

The foundation is also responsible for the LEAP education program, in which student teams identify a problem in aviation and work collaboratively to investigate the issue and solutions. 

“We are excited by Erik’s work to promote solutions to aviation’s toughest challenges through education and awareness,” said Chris Van Buiten, director, Sikorsky Innovations. “As Sikorsky Innovations continues to recognize and enable innovation, we applaud Erik’s unique and creative approach to inspire students to a lifelong passion for problem solving.” 

Sergei Sikorsky, along with members of the Sikorsky Innovations team, was on site to promote the advanced technology research occurring within Sikorsky Innovations. This included the Firefly all-electric helicopter, introduced in July 2010. The Firefly demonstrator is an S-300C helicopter equipped with a high-efficiency, 190-horsepower electric motor, digital motor controller, battery system, and cockpit controls.


Sergei Sikorsky and Erik Lindbergh discussed the history between the Sikorsky and Lindbergh families during the AERO press conference. Sikorsky provided details on the company’s drive for product innovation as it aligns with the LEAP Foundation’s initiatives. Sergei Sikorsky recently was inducted as an honorary lifetime member of the Helicopter Association International (HAI) by its Board of Directors. Through the years, he has followed in his father’s footsteps to promote the advancement of the aerospace industry. 

Sergei Sikorsky grew up watching his father build the famous Sikorsky flying boats and “Clippers” for Pan American Airways and other customers around the world. He remembers his first flight, at age 8, seated on his fathers’ lap in the copilots’ seat of a twin-engine S-38 amphibian.  Later, with his father at the controls, the young Sergei flew in the first successful Sikorsky helicopter, the VS-300. During these years, the Sikorsky home was visited often by such aviation legends as the Lindbergh family, Colonel “Jimmy” Doolittle, Captain “Eddie” Rickenbacker, and others. 

During World War II, Sergei served in a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter development squadron, and participated in the testing and demonstration of the earliest helicopter rescue hoists and flew in some of the first helicopter search and rescue missions. In 1951, he joined Sikorsky Aircraft (then known as United Aircraft) and held international marketing and manufacturing assignments for the next 41 years before returning to the Sikorsky Aircraft plant in Connecticut. He retired in 1992 as Vice President, Special Projects, and remains active with the company as a consultant. 

Sikorsky Innovations is an agile, networked group of Sikorsky employees and industry teammates dedicated to demonstrating innovative technology solutions to the toughest problems in vertical flight. Sikorsky Innovations is pursuing a broad range of advanced technologies, including the X2 Technology demonstrator, aware and adaptive aircraft systems, and optionally piloted aircraft. Sikorsky Aircraft is based in Stratford, Connecticut, it is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service.

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