ORLANDO, Fla., March 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Sergei Sikorsky, son of aerospace pioneer and Sikorsky Aircraft founder Igor Sikorsky, was inducted as an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Helicopter Association International (HAI) by its Board of Directors at the Heli-Expo industry show this week in Orlando. The honor was bestowed March 7 at the HAI "Salute to Excellence Dinner." Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE :UTX ).
HAI President Matt Zuccaro said, "HAI reserves honorary membership for those individuals who have distinguished themselves to a significant degree through efforts directed toward the advancement or improvement of the helicopter industry. Sergei Sikorsky has clearly done that by continuing the work of his pioneering father and consistently promoting the helicopter and its value to mankind." Since HAI was established in 1948, it has awarded honorary memberships to 29 individuals, including Igor Sikorsky, and other industry pioneers such as Charles Kaman and Frank Piasecki.
"I am deeply honored," Sergei said. "Very simply stated, it was the HAI's founders and pioneers who took my father's vision of the helicopter and transformed it into reality. To the founders and pioneers, my sincere thanks."
Sergei Sikorsky has made a career of following in his father's footsteps to promote the advancement of the aerospace industry. He 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.
HAI is the trade association of the international helicopter community, representing more than 2,700 members in 70 nations. Members include individual pilots and mechanics, helicopter operators, manufacturers, vendors and 91 affiliated organizations in the U.S. and throughout the world. HAI members operate more than 5,000 helicopters each year, totaling 2.3 million hours of flight. Since its inception, HAI has been dedicated to promoting the unique contributions vertical flight offers to society and advancing the international helicopter community.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
SOURCE Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation