What’s it’s like to fly an 11,500-pound experimental helicopter (with zero experience)

We’re hovering over the tarmac in a large helicopter. Mark Ward, a former commander in the Coast Guard, is on my left, giving me a brief, real-time lesson in how to fly a chopper?a 5.8-ton, multi-million-dollar flying machine that, incredibly, I get to operate the old-fashioned way.

It’s early September, and the treeline along the Housatonic River by the flight field in Stratford, Connecticut, is still green. The cockpit holds a wealth of screens, switches, buttons, and gauges, but I only need to focus on three key controls: the rudder pedals at my feet, a lever called the collective to my left, and a stick known as the cyclic between my knees.

Those are the basic controls that any helicopter pilot must master, and I?m certainly no pilot. But Ward is. He flew search and rescue HH-60J helicopters before joining Sikorsky, the company that makes the experimental, highly-customized chopper that?s letting us defy gravity right now.


NFAC tests next-generation military helicopter

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. — The U.S. Army is looking to improve its aviation technology and recently called upon the Arnold Engineering Development Complex – National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, to advance this effort.

Engineers from Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and The Boeing Company, in partnership with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center Army Aviation Development Directorate, recently conducted a series of tests at NFAC to support the development of the SB>1 DEFIANT?, a military helicopter being developed for the Army?s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program.

The goal of this wind tunnel test was to validate the aerodynamic performance and flight mechanics of Sikorsky?s X2 Technology? aircraft. These configurations, which are being utilized on the SB>1 DEFIANT?, include a lift-offset coaxial rotor system, composite fuselage and rear-mounted pusher propulsor that provides increased speed.


The Pirouetting S-97 Raider Makes Your Helicopter Look Lazy

EVEN AT SEVEN in the morning, the south Florida heat and humidity is stifling. It steams up eyeglasses and feels like an iron on your skin. An alligator lurks in a stagnant pond near the runway?perhaps a spy sent by Bell, Sikorsky?s chief competitor for the contract to build the Defense Depart?ment?s next generation of vertical-lift aircraft.

But any resentment about Sikorsky?s decision to test its radical new S-97 Raider prototype at its facility in West Palm Beach vanishes as the helicopter?s 2,600-horsepower turbine engine spools and the dual, counterrotating rotors above the fuselage start spinning, out-blowing any ocean breeze.


Air Force pilot tests modified Black Hawk helicopter for first time

July 18 (UPI) — For the first time, an Air Force pilot tested an HH-60W combat rescue helicopter, which is a modified version of the Army’s UH-60M Black Hawk. Maj. Andrew Fama, a test pilot with the 413th Flight Test Squadron based in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., flew the aircraft last Thursday at Sikorsky Aircraft’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.


See the US Air Force?s new combat rescue helo fly for the first time

PHILADELPHIA ? A Lockheed Martin subsidiary?s combat rescue helicopter took to the skies for the first time Friday. The HH-60W helicopter ? one of two that Sikorsky fully assembled ? flew from the company?s West Palm Beach, Florida, test facility, the company said. The second aircraft is set to begin flying next week, and another two aircraft enter flight tests this summer. The U.S. Air Force plans to buy 113 HH-60W helicopters to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk.


Documentary calls aging Sikorsky model military?s deadliest aircraft

STRATFORD ? A documentary about a crash that killed three sailors raises questions about the military?s aging fleet of Sikorsky H-53E helicopters, which the film calls the deadliest aircraft in the armed services. Since debuting in the 1980s, 132 military personnel have died on the helicopter, according to the documentary, ?Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?? The film is currently being screened at festivals and special events, with the hope that it will be picked up by a broadcaster or streaming outlet for wider distribution. It has also been adapted as a podcast.


SB-1 Defiant, AW139 Under Consideration As Coast Guard MH-65 Replacement

Among options eyed by the U.S. Coast Guard for a replacement of the service’s Airbus MH-65 Dolphin–first fielded in 1984–are the SB-1 Defiant prototype under development for the U.S. Army by Boeing and Sikorsky, the Leonardo AW139 , and some variant of the MH-60 by Sikorsky, according to defense industry sources. “Something has to happen by 2024,” said one defense industry source. The Coast Guard has 98 MH-65s in service.


First Flight for Sikorsky-Boeing?s Defiant Delayed Until 2019

Despite plans for the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant helicopter to fly in 2018, the schedule has now slipped to next year, company executives said Dec. 12.

The Defiant ??which is based on Sikorsky?s X-2 technology ? is?an advanced rotary-wing platform developed for the Army to inform requirements for future vertical life aircraft. The system is part of the service’s joint multi-role technology demonstrator effort. The initiative is a precursor to the Army?s future vertical lift program, which is meant to replace legacy helicopters with a family of new systems in the 2030s.

While the Defiant is now fully built, recent discoveries with the power?train system test bed, or PSTB, system has caused delays, delaying first flight until early 2019, said Rich Koucheravy, Sikorsky?s director for business development for future vertical lift.

This DARPA program will give Army and Marine aviators a robot co-pilot

Army aviators recently ran helicopters through missions with a kind of robot co-pilot for the first time, using technology a company says will be demonstrated in coming months on Black Hawk helicopters.

The pilots directed an ?optionally piloted helicopter? through mission scenarios ranging from obstacle avoidance to contour flight, according to a release.

The pilots used the technology to move a modified commercial helicopter, the S-76B Sikorsky, known as Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft or SARA, through the scenarios designed under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program with Lockheed Martin.

Black Hawk Turns 40

The U.S. Army doctrine of moving soldiers quickly into and out of enemy territory by air was a staple of Vietnam, which made the Bell UH-1 an emblem of the Helicopter War.

With 40 years of service ? much of it in combat ? the H-60 Black Hawk has achieved similar status as an ever-present aircraft delivering troops, rescuing wounded soldiers and hovering over U.S. operations in post-9/11 conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Since its introduction to service in 1978, Sikorsky has churned out more than 4,000 H-60 airframes in a variety of configurations. Now owned by Lockheed Martin, the company built 600 A-model Black Hawks, 800 UH-60Ls and 1,200 UH-Ms outfitted with a modern glass cockpit.