1958 Sikorsky S-60 Prototype Flying Crane

The S-60 was the last rotor-craft that Igor Sikorsky personally worked on the design, construction and testing of.

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

A brief history of the restoration in photos.

Building the Dream

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Moving In

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Rebuilding the Cockpit

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Rebuilding the Fuselage

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Rebuilding the Tail

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Rebuilding the Center Section

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