The story of the helicopter and its creator, Igor Sikorsky, and chief promoter, a young Coast Guard lieutenant named Frank Erickson, closely parallels that of Wilbur and Orville Wright and their first flying machine. Like that famous brother team, these courageous visionaries risked their lives and careers on a dream. Dubbed “Igor’s Nightmare” in the early days of its development, the helicopter brought derision and ridicule on its supporters. Few who saw the contraption, with it flailing rotors and staccato motion, could be convinced that it was the momentous achievement it would one day be considered. This book clearly demonstrates the problems encountered by the personalities involved and their strengths in developing the helicopter for Coast Guard use. It shows how Erickson and his friend and mentor, Coast Guard captain William Kossler, undaunted by their lack of support, fought with single-minded intensity to establish the helicopter as a vital rescue tool in the service. Kossler died while the project was still in its infancy. Erickson left the service in disgrace but lived to see his humanitarian efforts succeed when the helicopter revolutionized search-and-rescue operations. (Description from Naval Inst Pr, who first published this book in hardcover November 1, 1996). An enjoyable read even for those not into aviation.
Awards for Wonderful Flying Machines:
The 2018 “Bronze” award from Military Writers Society of America http://www.mwsadispatches.
2016 “Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for Excellence in Naval Aviation History and Literature.”
“2102 Best Article Voted by American Aviation Historical Society Membership.”
Barrett Thomas Beard is author, editor, and editor-in-chief of several books, plus writer of approximately one hundred journal articles. He also worked as a documentary film writer and editor. Tom holds a MA degree in history with additional formal studies in American maritime history. He split a 20-year military flying career as a Navy carrier attack pilot and a Coast Guard rescue pilot in both fixed wing and rotary-wing aircraft. He holds FAA airline transport and commercial helicopter ratings, and a Coast Guard masters license for sail and power vessels. Tom and his wife, as a team, sailed their sailboat around the world almost twice over a 16-year period. He once formally trained in naval architecture and designed small boats and yachts. Several of his designs were featured in national magazines—a life time ago. One small sailboat is now being manufactured in Vietnam as a fleet of training boats for a program to bring yachting to Vietnam. This little boat raced for many years and Tom was told it never lost a race. Tom had two or three boats featured in WoodenBoat Magazine. Hobbies for him include rebuilding 100-year-old automobiles and continuing cruises aboard his boat.