Public Release: 

Patent holder for Black Hawk helicopter tells

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics


IMAGE: Black Hawk book cover view more

Credit: AIAA

Black Hawk: The Story of a World Class Helicopter tells, in clear detail, how Sikorsky Aircraft developed, tested, modified, and produced one of the most successful helicopters in the world.

Written by the man who holds the design patent for the Black Hawk, Ray Leoni explains how Sikorsky used innovative designs with the right advanced technologies to meet the Army's stringent specifications for aircraft performance, survivability and reliability. With its creative Black Hawk design, Sikorsky won an uphill, highly contested battle for one of the world's largest helicopter programs, reestablishing the company as a leader in the world community of helicopter producers.

Black Hawk variants have been put in service by every branch of the U.S. Military and by more than 24 countries around the world accumulating over 5 million flight hours. Through its combat service in the campaigns of Granada, Panama, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Black Hawk has demonstrated unprecedented mission versatility and survivability and proven itself to be an outstanding war-fighting machine that will serve for a half century or longer. In the best tradition and vision of Igor Sikorsky, Black Hawks are performing worldwide rescue and humanitarian missions saving countless lives and providing relief from natural and manmade disasters to thousands of people across the globe.

From its Vietnam experience, the Army knew exactly what it wanted in its new Utility Transport Helicopter, the Black Hawk. Its requirements for performance, reliability and survivability were unprecedented. In a fly before you buy competition, Sikorsky was the winner. The author, whose name is on the Black Hawk patent, brilliantly reveals the issues, struggles and ultimate success in producing arguably the world's finest helicopter.--Bill Paul, Sikorsky Aircraft President, Retired

The book details the Army's competitive selection process that resulted in a seven-month fly-off evaluation among prototypes from Boeing Vertol and Sikorsky. During this critical evaluation, a nighttime crash occurred of one of Sikorsky's three prototypes with 14 Army personnel aboard. This book shows the cause and results of that crash and describes how its consequences actually strengthened Sikorsky's competitive position.

It also describes in considerable technical detail the problems encountered by Sikorsky during prototype development in vibration, speed performance, maneuverability and handling qualities and how they were solved in time for the production award. Many of the key people responsible for the success of the Black Hawk program are identified throughout this book


Black Hawk: The Story of a World Class Helicopter (ISBN 978-1-56347-918-2, 200 pp, $44.95) by Ray D. Leoni is scheduled for release by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in August 2007.

Review copy requests can be emailed to Orders my be placed at; AIAA Publications Customer Service, P.O. Box 960, _Herndon, VA 20172-0960; Phone: 800/682-2422 or 703/661-1595; Fax: 703/661-1501

AIAA advances the state of aerospace science, engineering, and technological leadership. Headquartered in suburban Washington, D.C., the Institute serves over 35,000 members in 65 regional sections and 79 countries. AIAA membership is drawn from all levels of industry, academia, private research organizations, and government. For more information, visit

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