1958 Sikorsky S-60 Prototype Flying Crane

The S-60 was the last rotor-craft that Igor Sikorsky worked on.

The S-60 in all her glory… (Sikorsky Archive)

In 1958 Sikorsky began design work on the Model S-60 twin-engined heavy-lift helicopter, a machine that incorporated the pod-mounted piston engines and dynamic components of the earlier Model S-56/CH-37. The S-60’s fuselage was extremely simple, consisting of a central ‘backbone’ which supported the podded engines, main and tail rotor systems, and a nose-mounted crew cabin. Bulk cargo and passengers were intended to be carried in large rectangular pods that could be attached to the underside of the aircraft’s central spine, whereas vehicles and other out-sized loads were to be sling-hoisted. One S-60 was built for Navy evaluation, but the craft was found to be underpowered for its intended roles and Sikorsky took the design back to the drawing boards for extensive reworking. The reconfigured machine, which was allotted the company designation S-64A, made its first flight in May 1962 under the watchful eyes of Army observers.

S.Harding “U.S.Army Aircraft since 1947″, 1990

Testing the lifting capacity. (Sikorsky Archive)

Sikorsky’s first ‘flying crane’ helicopter was the Sikorsky S-60, developed from the S-56 and retaining that machine’s powerplant, transmission and rotor system. Work began in May 1958 and the prototype was flown on 2 March 1969; it was capable of lifting a 5443kg payload beneath the fuselage boom, and the co-pilot could turn his seat to face aft to control loading and unloading. The prototype S-60 was damaged in April 1961, but by then Sikorsky had begun construction of an enlarged version, with a six-bladed main rotor driven by two 3020kW JFTD-12A turboshaft engines. Designated S-64, the prototype flew on 9 May 1962.

D.Donald “The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft”, 1997

The Sky Crane was the last of Igor Sikorsky’s personal babies. It was the direct outcome of the S-60 experiments that were done with the piston H-37 drive train.

Out for a ride… (Sikorsky Archive)

Here is Igor and his engineering team out for a quick flight underneath the first crane.  On that S-60 flight, the pilot was Jack Peterson, and his co-pilot was Jim Kay.  After takeoff, Jim checked to see if the platform was behaving itself, as he glanced back to look, he said to Pete, Pete, don’t do anything sudden!
What’s wrong, is the load swinging?, Pete asked.
Nope, worse. The Old Man is up and walking around!It seems that Igor had undone his belt and began strolling around the tiny platform, oblivious to the fact that there was no railing, or that they were 1500 feet above the ground! After much strenuous gesturing, Igor got the hint and sat back down!

Today… The Restoration Begins October 6th 2010

Pedals in the weeds…

Bill and John begin the start of life support for the S-60 – Photo from Charlie Vesterman

The S-60 at New England Air Museum

The forward section siting at the New England Air Museum in storage.

The S-60 returns to Stratford

Dick Evans removes the forward section from a flatbed at the CASC.

The S-60 returns to Stratford

The gallant recovery team poses for a photo with the aft fuselage section of the S-60.

Sikorsky S-60 Restoration

The forward cab has been entered into the restoration cycle and is currently being worked on.

Co-pilots Door frame being repaired.

Co-Pilots deck repair. New formers have been hand hammered and will be hear treated before installing.

Bob Amarato, Charlie Vesterman & Bill Fickes posing with a new 37/56 Tail Rotor Blade. A full set were donated from Piasecki Helicopter.

Bob Amarato, Charlie Vesterman & Bill Fickes posing with a new 37/56 Tail Rotor Blade. A full set were donated from Bud Leonard.

IMG_4190 (1)

Bob Amarato posed with the tail rotor, transmission and blades donated by Bud Leonard for the S60.


Work on the tail boom began in late 2012.

Work on the tail boom began in late 2012.

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