The Franklin Institute Logo
Case Files logo

Multi-motored Airplanes, 1933

Military Mission

Very soon, precipitated by the June 28 assassination in Sarajevo, World War I began and Sikorsky's company went into production to manufacture military versions of the Ilia Mourometz for use for reconnaissance and bombing missions. Three years later, the Bolshevik revolution shook Russia and, with reason to believe that his fame and standing made him a target, Sikorsky fled to France. His daughter from a short-lived marriage, Tania, remained in Russia. In 1918, the war ended and the market for a military airplane designer dried up. Sikorsky, speaking of his admiration for Edison and Ford and the opportunities for success, left for America in March of 1919.

Success was not immediate; new airplanes were not being built while leftover military machines were available and government development funding had ceased. Sikorsky survived as a teacher to other Russian immigrants in New York and in 1923 his sisters arrived from Russia, bringing his six-year-old daughter Tania. One year later Sikorsky married a fellow immigrant, Elizabeth Sermion, and four sons—Sergei, Nikolai, Igor Jr., and George—were born to the family. A group of his immigrant friends gathered enough funds to establish the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation on a chicken farm in Long Island. Its first product was the model S-29-A passenger aircraft which met with some success. Sikorsky became a United States citizen in 1928.