Igor Sikorsky

977 Words 4 Pages
The United States military has always placed a high value on its soldiers and their survivability in conflict. We as a nation believe that our citizens deserve the best care we can offer should they become a casualty of war. Since the beginning of combat, almost all fighting forces have utilized some method to evacuate their wounded from the battlefield.
Throughout history we can see different methods that nations have used to evacuate their wounded from the battlefield with varying degrees of success. As these methods evolved people learned that the most important factor for survival is always the time it takes to get the wounded to some form of care. In the past, evacuation by ground was really the only way to transport someone and whether
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was using airplanes for medical evacuation but still the need for a prepared runway would be the limiting factor and soldiers would still need to be transported by ground from their point of injury to the airplane. A man named Igor Sikorsky however was about to introduce something that could overcome the limitations of the airplane. His successful design of the helicopter would draw interest from military leadership and become the spark that would ignite the future explosion of army helicopters. Igor himself highlighted the lifesaving capability of the helicopter as one of its greatest capabilities. The first rescue by helicopter happened on 21 April 1944 when a 1st Air Commando Group L-1 was shot down in Burma. The L-1 was carrying a pilot and three British soldiers. Since the rice paddy that it crashed in was unsuitable for an airplane to land in commanders were forced to use the helicopter. 1st Lieutenant Carter Harmon, a pilot of the Sikorsky R-4 helicopter was tasked with the rescue of the downed personnel. Through a series of modifications to carry more fuel and extend the R-4s range Lt. Harmon was able to not only reach, but successfully rescue the stranded personnel.(call sign Dustoff) The R-4 was by no means a solid rescue platform and did have many limitations. Due to its light construction and small piston engine it was flimsy and underpowered. Regardless of its faults the word was out and other commanders would now use the …show more content…
Neel had seen and heard about how helicopters had successfully performed life saving missions in the past and fully believed that the helicopter was the way of future medical evacuation. Neel relentlessly promoted the further funding, research, and development of medical helicopters but to no avail. Once the U.S. entered The Korean War, Commanders again started entertaining the idea of helicopters as medical platforms. Once again casualties needed to be evacuated from the battlefield but the Korean terrain made ground evacuation extremely challenging. In 1950, L-5 and C-47 airplanes were deployed to fill the medical evacuation role, but the dependence on prepared runways proved the airplanes less than desirable for the

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