Sikorsky celebrating 100 year anniversary at Paris Air Show
June 22, 2023 By Helicopters Staff
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is celebrating its 100th anniversary during the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget this week, emphasizing its workforce in Poland and its commercial and defence customers across Europe.
Fifty-six years ago, two Sikorsky HH-3E search and rescue helicopters, which the company notes as the first air-refuellable helicopters built, made the first non-stop helicopter flight across the Atlantic Ocean from New York, over London and finally to Le Bourget during the 27th Paris Air Show.
“Today Sikorsky helicopters around the world regularly make long-range flights in some of the toughest conditions,” said Paul Lemmo, Sikorsky President. “Those HH-3E flights in 1967 — with refueling supported by a Lockheed HC-130P Hercules tanker — were a testament to the ingenuity and innovation that began 100 years ago with our founder Igor Sikorsky. Innovation is central to our 21st Century Security mission of supporting our customers with systems to address their most difficult challenges.”
The aircraft traveled 4,270 miles at about 131 mph before landing at 1:53 p.m. local time on June 1, 1967, at Le Bourget. The second HH-3E, which took a slightly altered path so it could clock the New York to London record, landed about 12 minutes later.
“I was there with my father to welcome the crew of the U.S. Air Force’s HH-3E, the original Jolly Green Giant, when it arrived at Le Bourget,” said Sergei Sikorsky, one of Igor’s sons who lived in Germany supporting the country’s CH-53G heavy-lift helicopter program starting in 1972. “On the flightline at Le Bourget, we watched the first HH-3E perform a flawless refueling demo with a HC-130P Hercules tanker and then land 30 hours and 46 minutes after it left New York.”
Sikorsky notes its aircraft have supported missions in Europe for decades. For example, the German Armed Forces have operated CH-53G heavy lift helicopters in Germany and during missions all over the world for more than 50 years. Today in Europe, there is a growing fleet of Black Hawk and MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, as well as with the future opportunities with X2 aircraft and the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter.
Twenty years ago, Austria became the first European country to operate Black Hawk when Sikorsky delivered nine UH-60L to the Bundesheer.
In Poland, Lockheed Martin’s PZL Mielec has been designing, manufacturing and servicing aircraft and helicopters for more than 85 years. The company’s 1,500 employees will deliver the 100th S-70 Black Hawk multi-role helicopter from its production facility later this year. This comes after Sikorsky delivered its 5,000th Hawk helicopter in January.
“The multi-mission Black Hawk provides critical capabilities that will strengthen readiness, interoperability and security across Europe for decades to come,” Lemmo said. “We continue to invest in Black Hawk modernization to provide operators with the reliability, versatility and growth they require to deter threats, integrate with the global fleet and support national security.”
Sikorsky notes its S-92 and S-76 helicopters are also used for civil and commercial missions in Europe including VIP and head-of-state transport, oil and gas, and search and rescue. Thirteen S-92 helicopters support head-of-state missions globally and two S-76s have been providing air transport for the British Royal Family for more than two decades. There are 100 S-92 helicopters operating in the North Sea and supported by Sikorsky forward stocking locations in Norway and Scotland.