IGOR SIKORSKY. TLS: "I.I. Sikorsky", ¾p, 8¼x11. Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1947 April 15. On letterhead of Sikorsky Aircraft to General W. Witkowsky, New York, N.Y. In full: "This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of April 12.

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IGOR SIKORSKY. TLS: "I.I. Sikorsky", ¾p, 8¼x11. Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1947 April 15. On letterhead of Sikorsky Aircraft to General W. Witkowsky, New York, N.Y. In full: "This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of April 12. I have already learned with deep regret of the death of your brother and my good friend, Colonel K. Witkowsky. I remember him well from the time when he was one of the prominent officers of the squadron of the Ilia Mourometz ships. I would like to see you sometime and will try to communicate with you the next time I am in New York. I am taking the liberty of sending you, under separate cover, a copy of my father's book which I hope you will find of interest. With kindest personal regards." In the year of this letter, a Sikorsky helicopter (S-51) was used in the first naval rescue (his first production helicopter had made land rescues during WWII). Ukrainian-born aviation pioneer Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky (1889-1972), the son of a psychology professor, designed the first four-engine airplane and the first modern helicopter, successfully flown on May 24, 1940, seven years before this letter. The "Ilia Mourometz [also called Ilya Muromets] ships" mentioned in this letter had been designed and built by Sikorsky at the Russo-Baltic Carriage Factor in Riga. Originally intended to be luxury airplanes, the planes, which had a separate passenger salon, comfortable wicker chairs, a bedroom, lounge and bathroom in addition to heating and electrical lighting, were adopted by the Russian Imperial Army in August 1914. Sikorsky had changed their design, converting the planes into the world's first mass produced bomber. The engines were protected with 5mm armor, the internal racks carried up to 800kg of bombs and positions for up to nine machine guns were added in various locations, including the extreme tail (during WWI, the Germans would often refuse to attack the planes due to their defensive firepower). The planes, which held a crew of four to eight (of which Colonel Witkowsky was a member), had a maximum speed of 81 mph and a range of 350 miles. On December 10, 1914, the Russians formed their first ten-bomber squadron, and by the summer of 1916, some 20 of the Ilya Muromets bombers were in action. It wouldn't be until that year that heavy bombers were introduced by other combatants - and all resembled those of the Russian pioneer to some degree. The Russians built 73 Ilya Muromets (which were named after a Russian mythical hero) between 1913-1918, with the last flight being made in 1922, three years after Sikorsky had emigrated to the U.S. and the year before he formed Sikorsky Aero Engineering Company. In 1925, the company became known as The Sikorsky Manufacturing Company, and later manufactured such "flying boats" as the S-36 and S-42 (used by Pan Am for transatlantic flights). With the success of its amphibious craft in 1928, the company was renamed Sikorsky Aviation Company and land was purchased in Stratford, Connecticut for its production facilities in 1929. That year, the company was purchased by and became a subsidiary of United Aircraft, today a part of United Technologies Corporation. Today, the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation remains one of the world's leading helicopter manufacturers. Lightly creased. Shaded at margins from prior framing. Penciled date and ink notes (unknown hand) at upper right. Overall, fine condition.

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