World’s First Helicopter – Today in History: September 14
Igor Sikorsky's first helicopter ascent, Stratford

Igor Sikorsky's first helicopter ascent, Stratford

On September 14, 1939, the VS-300, the world’s first practical helicopter, took flight at Stratford, Connecticut. Designed by Igor Sikorsky and built by the Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division of the United Aircraft Corporation, the helicopter was the first to incorporate a single main rotor and tail rotor design. Piloted by Sikorsky, the September 14 tethered flight lasted just a few seconds. The first free flight took place on May 13, 1940. The innovative 28-foot diameter, three-blade rotor allowed for variable pitch of the blades with a blade speed of 250 to 300 mph. The concepts demonstrated in the VS-300 provided the basis for the first production helicopters and became the standard for helicopter manufacturing across the world. On June 27, 1931, Sikorsky submitted a patent application (no. 1,994,488) for a direct lift aircraft, which included all the major engineering features of the VS-300. The patent was granted on March 19, 1935. Presented to Henry Ford and included in his Edison Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, on October 7, 1943, the VS-300 today remains on display at the Henry Ford Museum.

Igor Sikorsky and the first successful helicopter built in America

Igor Sikorsky and the first successful helicopter built in America, Stratford – Connecticut Historical Society

Learn More


Henry Ford Museum. “Donating the VS-300,” 2016. Link.
“Igor I. Sikorsky Historical Archives,” 2016. Link.


Sikorsky, Igor I. Patent Number 1,994,488 - Direct Lift Aircraft. 1994488. Nichols, CT, issued March 19, 1935. Link.


Mangan, Gregg. On This Day in Connecticut History. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2015.

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