Sikorsky met with aviation pioneers, to ask them questions about aircraft and flying.
After returning home, Sikorsky began to experiment with model flying machines, and by age 12, he had made a small rubber band-powered helicopter.
Sikorsky began studying at the Saint Petersburg Imperial Russian Naval Academy, in 1903, at the age of 14.
In 1906, he determined that his future lay in engineering, so he resigned from the Academy, despite his satisfactory standing, and left the Russian Empire to study in Paris.
He returned to Russia in 1907, enrolling at the Mechanical College of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute.
After the academic year, Sikorsky again accompanied his father to Germany in the summer of 1908, where he learned of the accomplishments of the Wright brothers’ Flyer and Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s dirigible.
Sikorsky later said about this event: “Within twenty-four hours, I decided to change my life’s work.
I would study aviation.” With financial backing from his sister Olga, Sikorsky returned to Paris in 1909 to study aeronautics in the world-renowned Ecole des Techniques Aéronautiques et de Construction Automobile in Paris (ETACA, now École supérieure des techniques aéronautiques et de construction automobile (fr)) engineering school and to purchase aircraft parts.
At the time, Paris was the center of the aviation world.
After immigrating to the United States in 1919, Sikorsky founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1923, and developed the first of Pan American Airways’ ocean-conquering flying boats in the 1930s.
In 1939 Sikorsky designed and flew the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, the first viable American helicopter, which pioneered the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today.
Sikorsky modified the design into the Sikorsky R-4, which became the world’s first mass-produced helicopter in 1942.