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Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

With the exception, maybe, of Ohio, no different state is extra synonymous with aviation than Connecticut. Inextricably tied to lots of the world’s most famous plane, powerplant, and propeller producers, it’s canvassed by the likes of Sikorsky Plane Company, Pratt and Whitney, Likelihood Vought, Avco Lycoming, Hamilton Normal, and the collective United Applied sciences. A lot of their worthwhile contributions could be considered by visiting its aviation sights.

Nationwide Helicopter Museum

Sandwiched between Avco Lycoming at one finish of Stratford and Sikorsky Plane Company on the different, and situated within the deserted, 48-foot-long eastbound Metro North Railroad Station, the Nationwide Helicopter Museum traces the technological and historic improvement of rotary-wing plane.

Brainchild of Dr. Raymond E. Jankovich, an area pediatrician, and Robert McCloud, founding father of The Stratford Bard newspaper, it was conceptualized in 1978 due to its helicopter-associated location and potential profit to the town. Its realty was cemented with a grant from Avco Lycoming.

Billing itself as the one such museum dedicated to rotary-wing airplanes and opening in 1983, it’s totally run by volunteers, most of whom are former Sikorsky workers, and gives a chronologically-displayed picture essay, fashions, and some airframe sections which collectively hint helicopter design from nature, which aerial flight had historically tried to emulate, to the twenty first century.

The helicopter itself traces its origins to the Chinese language flying tops recorded as early because the fourth century BC. Comprised of quick, spherical sticks, they have been affixed with “helicopter blade,” or airfoil-resembling, feathers. Rotated by both being rubbed backwards and forwards or pulled by a string, they spun and their angled feathers generated raise, inflicting them to vertically ascend.

Leonardo da Vinci later made quite a few sketches of wing-flapping gliders, parachutes, and air screws able to lifting people, the screws themselves fabricated from linen with the intention to trip the air, about which he theorized, “when pressure generates swifter motion than the flight of the unresisting air, this air turns into compressed after the way of feathers compressed and crushed by the burden of a sleeper. And the factor which drove the air, discovering resistance in it, rebounds after the way of a ball struck in opposition to a wall.”

The museum’s personal “Within the Starting” show illustrates these early ideas. Man’s first rotary wing was the prehistoric boomerang, which led to the Chinese language high and da Vinci’s Helix, the primary recorded “helicopter” design.

Its “Early Desires” drawings, from 1843, depict each spherical, fan-resembling and side-by-side rotors, whereas these generated by Sir George Cayley have been flatter, forming a wing in flight.

The “Early Prophets” survey signifies that the primary profitable, powered ascent reached a 40-foot top throughout a 20-second flight.

A 60-rotor helicopter, designed by Gustave Whitehead in 1911, seems within the “Earlier than Sikorsky” assortment, whereas the “Worldwide Achievements” panel depicts the event interval between 1930 and 1935.

Professor E. H. Henrich, as evidenced from the “German Ascendency” panel, fashioned a brand new firm to pursue his goals of designing a rotary-wing plane after serving as Focke-Wulfe’s Design Chief, and it made a 28-second flight on June 26, 1936.

A mural entitled “Delivery of First Flight” and obtained from the Sikorsky manufacturing unit shows a brief timeline of his designs starting with the VS-300-V1 of 1942.

Engine improvement could be gleaned from “The Gasoline Turbine Revolution.” The steam engine, as an example, had an excessive amount of structural weight to assist then-known vertical raise expertise, however the lighter gasoline powerplant, showing simply after the turn-of-the-century, was ubiquitously used. The comparatively gentle, but highly effective rotary engine had been employed in the course of the Nineteen Twenties for helicopter experimentation, its whole cylinder block rotating spherical a stationary crankshaft and thus producing vital, air flow-created cylinder cooling.

The “State of Artwork in Crafts” survey showcases the numerous helicopter producers, together with Sikorsky, Bell, Hughes, Kaman, Piasecki, Boeing-Vertol, and Robinson, whereas a half-dozen show instances characteristic rotary-wing fashions.

Regardless of the museum’s small dimension and artifact dimension-limiting door, it however shows a number of precise helicopter elements. The primary rotor of an S-58, for instance-weighing 110 kilos and measuring 28 ft from its rotational center-is viewable near a Sikorsky S-76 tail rotor blade meeting. Engines embody an Avco Lycoming T800-APW-800 turbine and a T55-L-714, which powered such Boeing designs because the CH-47 Chinook, the Mannequin 234, the MH-47E Chinook, and the Mannequin 360. Additionally featured are an RAH-66 Sikorsky “shadow” Commanche fly-by-wire check mockup, and the cockpit part of a Sikorsky S-76 in utility/offshore oil configuration; the design has a 43.4-foot fuselage size, a 44-foot rotor diameter, and might obtain 155-knot ahead airspeeds.

The museum offers a small, however worthwhile venue by which rotary-wing expertise and historical past, typically discounted in aviation research, however right here singularly chargeable for Stratford’s very existence, could be explored.

New England Air Museum

Positioned in Windsor Locks subsequent to Bradley Worldwide Airport, the New England Air Museum is the biggest such aviation facility within the northeast, showcasing greater than 80 plane and infrequently specializing in Connecticut aeronautical achievements in some 75,000 sq. ft of indoor exhibition house, which is subdivided into three hangars. Its full assortment encompasses 125 airframes and 200 engines.

The Navy Exhibit Hangar, for instance–focusing on pure-jet fighters–features such plane because the Republic 105B Thunderchief, the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, the North American F-86F Sabre, the Grumman F-14B Tomcat, the Fairchild/Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II, and the North American F-100A Tremendous Sabre.

Its earliest design, a Sikorsky S-16 biplane, hails from 1915. That includes a 19.33-foot size and 26.25-foot wingspan, the fighter, with an 897-pound empty weight, rests on a quad-wheeled most important gear and a tail wheel to facilitate gentle discipline operations, and was the primary with a propeller arc-synchronized machine gun. It attained 74-mph most speeds.

World Struggle II-era fighters embody the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat and Connecticut’s personal Vought F4U-4 Corsair, the latter proudly sporting its basic, inverted-gull wings and seemingly outsized prop. The museum’s instance bears the identify of one of many extra well-known Marine pilots who fought within the Pacific Theatre, “Pappy Boyington.”

World Struggle II bombers are represented by the North American B-25H Mitchell, the high-wing, twin-engine, medium-range plane which had served on each entrance with the Air Power, the Navy, and several other nations, together with England, France, China, and the Soviet Union, within the roles of low- and medium-level bomber, anti-submarine patrol, and transport, in addition to having flown the well-known Doolittle Raid. The New England Air Museum’s instance is the final surviving B-25H variant and probably the most closely armed utilized by the allies, with a.75-mm nostril cannon, eight forward-facing.50 caliber machine weapons, and 6.50 caliber dorsal-, waist-, and tail turret-mounted machine weapons.

A number of rotary-wing plane, together with the Bell UH-1B Iroquois, the Kaman Okay-225, and the Kaman HH-43H, spherical out the gathering.

The Harvey H. Lippincott Civil Aviation Hangar sparkles with some uncommon gems.

The Silas H. Brooks balloon basket, for instance, is each the oldest-surviving basket and portion of a lighter-than-air craft on the planet. Brooks, of Plymouth, Connecticut, had constructed and flown his sizzling air balloon over Hartford and New Haven, accommodated in a five-foot-long, 200-pound wicker basket made in about 1870. As we speak, it may be considered in a glass case on the entrance to the hangar.

One other pioneer piece, a 1912 duplicate of a Curtiss Mannequin D Pusher biplane constructed by Howard Bunce, is the museum’s oldest-surviving, heavier-than-air craft and one which had been born on Connecticut soil.

The results of his a number of Mannequin D inspections, it first appeared on paper as his personal sketches earlier than being sublimated to particular person, after which assembled, elements, powered by a nonstandard four-cylinder, air-cooled engine constructed by Nels J. Nelson of New Britain, Connecticut. Though it had risen just a few ft off the bottom after which crashed on the Berlin Truthful Floor due to inadequate energy, it lent itself to a second duplicate within the type of cannibalized elements, and this instance, found in a barn in 1962, had been reassembled for museum exhibit with a 30-hp Kemp I-4 engine.

Different pioneer designs embody a Bleriot XI monoplane from 1909 and a Nixon Particular from 1918.

One other portion of a lighter-than-air craft on show is a Goodyear ZNP-Okay management automobile from a 1942 Okay-28 non-rigid airship, and biplanes are represented by a 1930 Gee Bee Mannequin A, a 1930 Laird LC-DW 300 Resolution, and a 1933 Viking “Kitty Hawk” Mannequin B-8.

Two traditionally vital, early-piston airliners are additionally viewable.

The primary of those, the Lockheed 10A Electra, is a twin-engined, low-wing, ten-passenger, tail-wheeled design which was the producer’s first all-metal airframe and offered the muse for the bigger L-14 and L-18 Lodestar. The museum’s instance, bearing serial quantity 1052, had first been delivered to the US Navy in 1936 to be used as a workers transport.

The second, an equally twin-engined, tail-wheeled plane, is the Douglas DC-3, probably the most massively produced, multiple-role, navy and civilian design, which for the primary time enabled operators to generate a revenue solely with the transport of passengers and thus revolutionized the airline business. Dubbed “one of many 4 most essential weapons of World Struggle II” by Normal Eisenhower, it nonetheless plies the skies greater than three-quarters of a century after it first took to them.

The museum’s DC-3, with greater than 53,400 airborne hours in its logbook, served in a number of capacities, initially in a navy function as a C-47 transport after which a business one with Japanese Airways, Purdue College, and quite a lot of smaller carriers.

Heart- and showpiece of the Civil Aviation Hangar, nevertheless, is each the biggest airframe in it and the one surviving instance of the Connecticut-designed and -constructed Sikorsky VS-44A Excambrian. Considered one of three accomplished in 1942 for American Export Airways’ nonstop transatlantic routes, the high-wing, quad-engined, long-range, flying boat-hulled airliner, with a 79.25-foot size, 124-foot wingspan, and 57,500-pound gross weight, was procured for conflict operations, transporting precedence passengers and cargo below Military and Navy contracts earlier than serving with a number of constitution airways. In depth injury resulted in its 1968 service withdrawal.

Barged from the Gulf of Mexico to Bridgeport, it was subjected to an intensive restoration by the workforce of Sikorsky workers who had been instrumental in its unique development.

As we speak, the plane, draped in its unique American Export Airways livery, bristles with a primary manufacturing unit rollout look.

One other, and just about solely, centerpiece-in this case, within the 58th Bomb Wing Memorial Hangar-is the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the hangar itself named after the wing which had been instrumental in World Struggle II Japanese defeat. The silver, smooth, 135,000-pound, quad-engined, 3,250-mile bomber stretches 99 ft in size and sports activities a 141.25-foot wingspan, and carries 11 crew members. Dropping the atom bomb over Japan, it closed the ultimate curtain on the Pacific Theatre.

Poised outdoors, as if awaiting passengers, is a Sud-Aviation SE.210 Caravelle, the world’s first short-range, pure-jet airliner. That includes the nostril part initially designed for the de Havilland Comet; modestly-swept, low wings; triangular-shaped passenger home windows; two aft-mounted, Rolls Royce Avon engines; and a cross-of-Loraine tail, the smooth plane served as the premise of most subsequent twin-jet configurations, such because the British Plane Company BAC-111, the McDonnell-Douglas DC-9, and the Fokker F.28 Fellowship. 2 hundred eighty Caravelles of all variations had been constructed.

Operated by United Airways, Sterling Airways of Denmark, and small package deal provider Airborne Categorical, it discovered its technique to the museum after the latter provider had donated it.

Except for the plane, the New England Air Museum options a number of themed displays, a few of which showcase Connecticut’s aviation contributions, together with “Historical past of Sikorsky Plane,” “Lafayette Escadrille,” “AVG Flying Tigers,” “Tuskegree Airmen,” and “Historical past of Pratt and Whitney.” There’s additionally an Aviation Pioneer’s Theater.

Open-cockpit days, laptop flight simulators, audio excursions, audio system, particular occasions, workshops, instructional packages, an aviation analysis library, and a large Wings ‘n’ Issues present store spherical out its choices.

Sikorsky Memorial Airport

Tracing its origins to the grass-covered Avon Subject racetrack, which had been conducive to early plane experimentation and had hosted the nation’s first air present in 1911, Sikorsky Memorial Airport, a publicly-owned facility in Stratford, later turned generally known as “Mollison Subject” after the 1933 crash-landing there by Captain Jim Mollison throughout his transatlantic try.

Regardless of its location, it had been redesignated “Bridgeport Municipal Airport” 4 years later when the town of Bridgeport itself had bought it.

Due to Connecticut’s prevalence of plane and engine producers, it had been thought of a part of the “Arsenal of Democracy” throughout World Struggle II, and was subsequently renamed “Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport” in 1972 in honor of the person who had remodeled the town into the birthplace of the helicopter and whose manufacturing unit had been largely chargeable for its growth.

As we speak, its services embody a passenger terminal with airline check-in counters, three gates, a restaurant, and automobile rental desks; a common aviation terminal; non-public hangars; and two runways–4,677-foot Runway 6/24 and 4,761-foot Runway 11/29. There’s additionally a 40- by 40-foot helipad.

Progressive service discontinuation by three regional carriers, together with Continental Connection in 1994, Delta Connection in 1997, and US Airways Categorical in 1999, had occurred as a result of current runway lengths prohibited bigger, extra worthwhile plane operations, though scheduled, business, rotary-wing service had been reinstated after a seven-year interval by US Helicopter with its return-to-roots helicopter operations to New York’s Downtown Heliport. Wiggins Airways offers FedEx Feeder cargo and small package deal service to the sector.

In the course of the 12-month interval ending on February 28, 2007, Sikorsky Memorial Airport recorded 77,617 plane operations and had 241-based plane, of which 72 p.c have been single- engine, 11 p.c have been multi-engine, 15 p.c have been turbine, and two p.c have been rotary wing.


Connecticut’s wealthy rotary- and fixed-wing plane, engine, and propeller contributions to aviation, whose seeds have been planted by among the most well-known names, advantage a tribute-paying go to to its many associated sights.

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