Originally operated by the US Army to move outsize cargo, Sikorsky Aircraft’s Skycrane helicopter continues to serve the commercial world in a variety of roles nearly six decades after its first flight. As Tom Kaminski relates, nearly half of the helicopters produced are still in service around the world today.
The concept for a ‘flying crane’ was proposed by helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky as early as 1955 and the company’s S-60 research aircraft took to the air on its maiden flight on March 25, 1959. The S-60 chalked up more than 335 hours of flight-testing before it was written of in a mishap on April 3, 1961. Its relative success resulted in Sikorsky Aircraft’s decision to continue development of the concept using company funds.