In 1958, Sikorsky Aircraft began designing a heavy-lift helicopter as a proof of concept for military and civilian uses. Although the prototype crashed in 1961, the S-60 led to the development of the successful S-64 Skycrane.The one and only S-60 Flying Crane is now being restored by the Connecticut Air and Space Center. Read about this helicopter and own a piece of a Sikorsky S-60 Flying Crane of your own.
The Sikorsky S-60 Flying Crane was a prototype aircraft designed by Sikorsky Aircraft in 1958, a research platform to determine whether a crane helicopter concept was feasible. Using components such as the rotor system and piston engines from the S-56/CH-37, the twin-engined heavy-lift helicopter was designed around a central backbone which supported the mechanics and cockpit suspended below it. Cargo or passengers would be carried in rectangular pods which could be attached while parked or hovering, while vehicles or outsized items such as telephone poles could be sling-hoisted. From the nose mounted cockpit, the pilot had an unobstructed view and the co-pilot could control loading from an aft facing seat.
Igor Sikorsky had spoken of his vision for this flying crane as far back as 1955 and it would be the last rotor-craft that he personally designed and tested. The sole Model S-60 prototype, N807, took flight for the first time on March 25, 1959, eventually accumulating 333 flight hours over its two year career.
Although effective, the S-60 was underpowered for the mission it was designed for. However, its success led to the development of a more powerful production prototype which became the S-64 Skycrane, or Army version CH-54 Tarhe. The Skycrane was an enlarged version of the S-60, featuring a six blade rotor and more powerful turboshaft engines rather than piston engines, but sharing the same basic “stick” fuselage configuration as the S-60. Today, the S-64 Air Crane® Helicopter is produced by Erickson Inc.
Here is the S-60 in flight.
The S-60’s mission was not over. N807 was to be delivered to NASA with an adjustment of the control sensitivity that would allow it to perform precision low speed maneuvers. Before it was delivered, during a check-out flight on April 3, 1961, the aircraft became unmanageable and crashed on the Sikorsky field. N807 was damaged beyond repair and its wreckage was donated to the New England Air Museum, where it remained stored outdoors for decades. Connecticut Air and Space Center obtained the airframe in 2010, more about i t her e. In 2023, CASC provided the original skin from N807’s restoration to create S-60 PlaneTags.
The Connecticut Air and Space Center , founded in 1998, is just one of a few museums in the U.S. to be housed in an original World War II aircraft factory, the former Stratford Army Engine Plant. The Center is part of property that was developed in 1927 for Sikorsky Aircraft, and used by the Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division to design and construct the F4U Corsair and other planes. CASC occupies the research and design hangar, and houses several noteworthy aircraft and military vehicles in its collection.
Photo provided by Connecticut Air & Space Center
MotoArt owner Dave Hall and the team were stoked to hear that CASC wanted to collaborate to create S-60 PlaneTags. They had original material that had been removed during N807’s restoration. “We are so proud of the Flying Crane PlaneTags," says Hall. "It's a win-win-win for all of us. We have the honor of creating S-60 PlaneTags, the restoration project receives support needed to continue their work, and the PlaneTags collector has a rare helicopter for their collection."
Here are some photos of the material before it became PlaneTags. Photos provided by Connecticut Air & Space Center.
The S-60 PlaneTags will be released on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 on planetags.com. They are numbered in a series of 3,250 and will be introduced in the following colors:
Get S-60 Flying Crane PlaneTags in the colors you want. Don't wait or you could miss the variant you have your eye on.
Don’t miss these other Sikorsky PlaneTags, especially if you’re a helicopter fan.
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