A Brief History of Connecticut Aviation

This is a brief walk through history and not all inclusive. We welcome additions to this page.

Email us at casc@ctairandspace.org


1785 John Meigs, a Yale tutor, built and launched two hot air balloons.

1885 Alfred E. Moore and John G. Doughty use a ballon to take the first aerial photographs of Connecticut.

1901 Gustave Whitehead flies his No.21 “The Condor” airplane in Fairfield/Bridgeport Connecticut

1902 The Aero Club of New England is formed.

1911 The First Airshow in the USA is held on the grounds of St. Michael’s Cemetery.

1913 The Connecticut Aircraft Company is founded.

1914 World War I begins.

1915 U.S. Navy contract was awarded to The Connecticut Aircraft Company for an airship, the DN-1.

1917 The 118th Airlift Squadron (Which would become the CT ANG) is formed.

1918 World War I ends.

1919 A Military Curtiss JN Jenny crashes at Avon field (Bridgeport). No one is injured.

Golden Age

1921 The Connecticut Aircraft Company closes.

1922 Harris Whittemore, Jr. created the first air transportation service in Connecticut on a field in Bethany.

        The Chance Vought Corporation is formed.

1923 The 118th Observation Squadron is officially organized as the Connecticut National Guard.

1925 The Air Mail Act (Kelly Act) is passed.

        Pratt & Whitney is founded.

        Sikorsky Aircraft is founded in Roosevelt, New York.

1926 The Air Commerce Act of 1926 is passed.

1928 Bridgeport Airport breaks ground. Airport Opens with Hangar 1 (today Blue Sky Flight School).

        It is the first Hangar at the Stratford Airport, built by the Curtiss Flying Service.

1929 Sikorsky Aircraft Moves to Stratford. Hangar 2 is constructed along with the Terminal Building (Bridgeport          Flight Service), thus opening Connecticut to Eastern Airlines as the first commercial passenger terminal in          Connecticut. July 5th 1929 The Airport is Dedicated as the Bridgeport Municipal Airport.

        Hamilton Standard Propellors is founded.

1930 The Viking Flying Boat Company is founded.

1932 The first Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine is run. Chance Vought moves to East Hartford.

1933 July 23 1933 – The Mollison’s, in their D.H. Dragon nicknamed the “Seafarer”, took off from the beach at                Pendine Sands, in Dyfed, Wales, flying to New York. Running low on fuel at night, they attempt to land at            the Bridgeport Airport, crashing into the marsh. From that event, the airport is renamed Mollison Field.

1934 The Viking Flying Boat Company closes.

Big Movements

1937 The LZ 129 Hindenburg is sighted off the coast of Lordship Beach before making it’s way to New Jersey.

        The first Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Engine is run.

1938 Chance Vought Aircraft and Sikorsky Aircraft merge creating the Vought-Sikorsky Corporation.

        The XO2SU Kingfisher prototype is flown.

1939 The VS-300 (the world’s first practical helicopter) makes it’s first flight, with Igor Sikorsky at the controls.          Vought-Sikorsky is physically merged under one roof at the 550 Main St. Stratford Plant.

1940 The XF4U Corsair prototype makes it’s first flight.

        Igor Sikorsky is awarded the first US Helicopter pilot’s license.

        Bradley Airport acquires 1,700 acres of land in Windsor Locks.

1941 Pearl Harbor is attacked. The United States enters World War II.

1942 The first production F4U-1 Corsair is received by the Navy. The first Pratt & Whitney R-2000 engine is run.

1943 Sikorsky Aircraft is de-merged from Vought Aircraft and moved to a new plant in Bridgeport to focus on              helicopter design and production.

        The Pratt-Read Company of Deep-River CT begins building 956 Waco CG-4 Gliders for the US Army Air Corps.

Victory & Post War

1944 Corsairs are deployed successfully to US Carriers for the first time.

        The first Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engine is run.

1945 The Kamman Aircraft Company is founded. World War II Ends.

1946 The Vought F6U Pirate makes it’s first flight. The Connecticut Air National Guard is federally recognized.

1947 The Kaman K-125 makes it’s first flight.

        The first civilian helicopter rescue takes place in November of 1945, off the coast of Fairfield, Connecticut.            An Army R-5 is flown by Sikorsky pilot Dimitry “Jimmy” Viner to rescue two men from an oil barge that is          breaking up on Penfield Reef during a storm.

1949 The Vought Aircraft Company moves from Stratford, CT to Dallas, TX.

1950 Robert Fulton Jr. creates the first drivable / flyable aircraft approved by the Civil Aviation Administration            in Newtown, CT.

1951 Textron Lycoming moves into the vacant Stratford Plant.

        Lycoming begins building Wright Radial Engines under license.

1952 Two Sikorsky S-55 (H-19) helicopters make the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, establishing            a world record.

1953 Sikorsky Aircraft constructs the currently occupied 800,000 SqFt Plant at a cost of $18 million.

        The first Textron Lycoming T53 Engine is developed and run by a research team headed by Ansel Franz.

1954 Vietnam War begins.

1955 The first Textron Lycoming T-55 Engine is run. The T-55 is immediately put into high volume production to          power the: AH-1 Cobra, Kaman K-MAX, OV-1 Mohawk, and UH-1 Iroquois.

New Beginnings 

1956 The first Kaman HH-43 is first flown.

1957 Avco Lycoming is awarded a contract to develop the nose cone for ICBM Missiles.

1958 The Fulton Skyhook, (a personnel retrieval system designed by Robert Fulton Jr.) is finalized and ready

        for service.

1959 The Sikorsky S-60 Skycrane Prototype is first flown. The New England Air Museum is founded.

1961 The Sikorsky S-60 Skycrane Prototype involved in an accident, causing the helicopter to break up, there                were no injuries.

1962 The Sikorsky S-64 makes it’s first flight.

1969 An FG-1D Corsair BuNo: 92460 is installed on a pedestal at the Sikorsky Memorial Airpot.

1970 The first Textron Lycoming AGT1500 Engine is run. The engine will be used for the M1A1 Abrams Tank.

        The New England Air Museum receives the damaged airframe of the Sikorsky S-60.

1972 Bridgeport Airport is re-dedicated as the Sikorsky Memorial Airport.

1973 The first batch of Kamman SH-2F Seasprites enter US Navy service.

1974 The Sikorsky S-70 (UH-60) Blackhawk makes it’s first flight.

1975 The United Aircraft Corporation becomes the United Technologies Corporation. Vietnam War ends.

1979 The Sikorsky S-70 (UH-60) Blackhawk enters service.

        A freak tornado destroys more than 20 vintage aircraft at the New England Air Museum.

Modern Times

1980 The first Pratt & Whitney 4000 turbine engine is run.

        Avco Lycoming is awarded a contract for production of the AGT 1500, first gas turbine engine for a tank.

1982 Sikorsky Aircraft puts the Seahawk Helicopter into production for the U.S. Navy.

1981 The Hubble Telescope Optics Lens is completed.

1984 Avco Lycoming acquires AVCOAT, a specific ablative heat shield used on the series of Orion Spacecraft.

1987 The Sikorsky VS-44A Flying Boat “Excambian” restoration begins at the Sikorsky Airport (where it was built).

1988 The Sikorsky VH-60N better known as “Marine One” enters service.

1994 Allied Signal takes over plant in Stratford.

1997 The Sikorsky VS-44A Flying Boat “Excambian” restoration is completed at the New England Air Museum.

1998 Allied Signal closes the Stratford plant on Main St.

        The Connecticut Air & Space Center is founded by Doc Gunther and other senior members.

1999 Kaman Aircraft receives IFR Certification for the K-1200 K-MAX.

        Hamilton Standard is merged to become Hamilton Sunstrand.

2004 The first Pratt & Whitney GP7000 turbine engine is run.

2005 The US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard crews fly Sikorsky Helicopters to rescue over 34,751           people in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

2008 The Sikorsky X2 makes it’s first flight.

         The 103rd Fighter Wing is re-designated the 103rd Airlift Wing.

         The FG-1D Corsair BuNo: 92460 is removed from it’s pedestal at the Sikorsky Memorial Airport for                         restoration by the Connecticut Air & Space Center.

2010 The Sikorsky S-97 Project is launched.

2011 The Sikorsky S-60 Skycrane is acquired from the New England Air Museum by the Connecticut Air & Space            Center and returns home to Stratford for restoration.

2012 Air-Lock Inc. of Milford makes connectors and bearings that are used on Felix Baumgartner’s suit when he          made his Red Bull-sponsored world record-breaking jump from 13.5 miles up.