In 2013, AHS International launched a new awards program to highlight the important vertical flight historical sites around the world. The Vertical Flight Heritage Sites Program recognizes and helps preserve sites of the most noteworthy and significant contributions made in both the theory and practice of helicopter and other VTOL aircraft technology. AHS hopes to promote to the public the rich history of the world-wide vertical lift community through this program.
- The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) was the first awardee of the Vertical Flight Heritage Sites Program. The induction ceremony was held on Sunday October 27, 2013 as part of festivities recognizing the 75th anniversary of the First Rotating Wing Aircraft Meeting, originally held at the Franklin Institute on October 27-29, 1938. This historic gathering was the first international meeting on rotary-wing aircraft and marked a turning point from autogyros to helicopters. It was from this event that the American helicopter industry was born. Flight magazine noted at the time that the Rotating Wing Meeting was held in Philadelphia because “this is the town in which practically all the rotary-wing activity in the United States takes place.” [Press Release | Ceremony Brochure]
- Pratt & Whitney Canada Plant (Longueuil, Québec, Canada): where the iconic PT6 helicopter engine was developed and is still produced today a half-century later, powering more than 25 different types of rotorcraft. Selected: March 2014; Dedication: May 22, 2014. [Press Release | Ceremony | Ceremony Brochure]
- Bell Helicopter Gardenville Site (Cheektowaga, New York, USA): the site of Bell’s initial helicopter developments, including construction and first flights of the three Model 30 prototypes, which would lead to more than 6,000 Bell Model 47s over four decades. Selected: March 2014; Dedication: June 25, 2015 [Press Release | Ceremony]
- NASA Langley Research Center (Hampton, Virginia, USA): Langley Research Center has had a long and distinguished history in powered lift technology development. This research has formed the foundation of knowledge for the powered lift community worldwide. Since the dedication of Langley in 1920, it has contributed to the understanding, design, analysis, and flight test development of experimental and production vertical flight configurations. Selected: March 2015; Dedication: May 8, 2015 [Press Release | Ceremony]
- Piasecki/Vertol/Boeing “Morton” Site (Springfield, Pennsylvania, USA): On this site, from March 1947, Piasecki Helicopter Corp. developed its tandem rotor helicopters, the XHRP-X / HRP-1 Rescuer, the HUP Retriever and H-21 Workhorse/Shawnee. As Vertol, the company continued development of the tandem helicopter, resulting in what would become the Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight and the CH-47 Chinook. Selected: March 2015; Dedication: planned for June 17, 2016 [Press Release]
- Leonardo da Vinci’s Studio, first known VTOL design (Milan, Italy): While working for the Ludovico il Moro Duke of Milan (c. 1487), Leonardo da Vinci produced the concept of a flying machine capable of vertical take-off and landing using a rotating wing, the Helix Aerial Screw, which is generally considered to be the first proposal for a helicopter. Selected: March 2016; Dedication: planned for September 2017 [Press Release]
- Kingsley Flats, first VTOL flight in US (Hammondsport, New York, USA): On May 22, 1908, the experimental helicopter of John Newton Williams, powered by an engine designed and built by Glenn Hammond Curtiss, lifted a person in vertical flight for the first time in the United States. This site, known as Kingsley Flats, hosted the work of Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association in the support of the Williams’ Helicopter experiments and testing from January to May 1908, resulting in this aeronautical first. Selected: March 2016; Dedication: planned for Fall 2016 [Press Release]
The AHS International Vertical Flight Heritage Sites Program grew out of the AIAA Historic Aerospace Sites Program. Members of the AHS History Committee supported AIAA's program by making numerous successful nominations for recognition. The Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in 2013 was the last ceremony for the AIAA Historic Aerospace Sites Program, which has now been discontinued. As a result, AHS International has initiated the Vertical Flight Heritage Sites Program to carry on the tradition of recognizing the most important historical sites for the vertical flight community.
Nominations for Vertical Flight Heritage Sites are now closed. The next round of submissions and supporting documentation will be due in February 2017. See the nomination application for requirements and details.
- Historically significant in the development or operation of rotary-wing or VTOL aircraft,
- Historically significant in the life or career of a vertical flight pioneer,
- Approved for recognition by the current property owner,
- Easily accessible to the public.