STRATFORD (Apr. 23, 2015) – A select few midshipmen were granted a remarkable opportunity to see where one of the most well-known contemporary aircraft comes into existence.
On the banks of the Housatonic River in Connecticut, you will find the Sikorsky factory; a vast expanse of metal and concrete that can yield a new helicopter every 6 days. Nestled within the facility were the testing and engineering departments hard at work on the helicopters of tomorrow and improving the ones we use today.
The midshipmen, accompanied by two Naval Aviators and a Sikorsky history specialist, were granted the opportunity to tour the Sikorsky facilities. The tour began in the archives room with the history of Sikorsky and its founder, Igor Sikorsky. The archives were filled with replicas of Sikorsky’s life work, from the first multi-engine airplanes to the very first helicopters. Each replica aircraft building on the last, showing just how progressive and inventive Mr. Sikorsky really was.
Next, the group moved on to the factory floor and was presented with the complex problem of manufacturing a multimillion-dollar aircraft. Fortunately, Sikorsky provided the solution with their intense automation, precise machining and a stellar crew of engineers and technicians. Being able to see each part being manufactured and assembled into smaller systems interested the midshipmen, but many wanted to see the finished product.
And so the midshipmen were presented with the final assembly room, where Sikorsky assembles and then puts the final touches on the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Blackhawk and HH-60M Medevac helicopters, as well as the U.S. Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. The midshipmen were impressed with the extreme efficiency of the different assembly technicians and their teams. It put into perspective the amount of work that goes into these military aircraft.
The final stop led the midshipman to Igor Sikorsky’s office, which brought home the message of the whole tour. Mr. Sikorsky worked his whole life to bring about a machine intended to save lives. He dedicated his whole life its development, and even went on to test many of the helicopters and other aircraft himself. It made the midshipmen step back and realize how amazing these aircraft really were, and the fact that some would be using Mr. Sikorsky’s work to save lives themselves.
For more information about NROTC, visit https://www.nrotc.navy.mil/
By Midshipman 1st Class Connor Humber, MIT NROTC Unit