75 Years of Advancing Vertical Flight

Looking Back to Forum 50 and Forward to Forum 75 
This year marks 75 years since the American Helicopter Society held its first Annual Forum in 1945. In this ongoing series, Vertiflite has been looking back on the Society’s history and celebrating its incredible legacy through insights from the past. 

Forum 50 PaintingForum 50 Commemorative Painting
The American Helicopter Society, as it was then known, celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Sheraton Washington Hotel on May 10–12, 1994. To mark this special occasion, the Society’s Executive Director, Rhett Flater, had a painting commissioned. 

The painting by Linda Richards includes cutting-edge military and civil helicopters of the day: the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche and the Agusta/Westland EH101. The coarse panel resolution comprising the Comanche fuselage (based on an actual computation model that appeared on the cover of the “1993-94 AHS Annual International Directory” issue of Vertiflite), illustrates the level of computational capability that was typical of that time period.

The grid in the Comanche is echoed by the surrounding faux computational fluid dynamics grid and the artistic lines that spread into the medieval drawings of Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci’s symbols of invention and creativity, and da Vinci was the first known inventor to conceptualize manned vertical flight. The other key elements of the painting are the Society’s logo at the time and the quintessence of hovering flight — the hummingbird — the timeless symbol for the Society.

The painting has been used to symbolize the Society for the past 25 years. It was used on the cover of the 50th anniversary booklet, “From da Vinci to Today and Beyond: The Top 20 Technology Achievements in the History of Vertical Flight” (see Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2019), as well as on the cover of The Journal of the AHS during the 2007–2016 timeframe.

Forum 75 Painting75th Anniversary Commemorative Painting 
This year, the Vertical Flight Society again commissioned a special painting, this one by artist Carolyn Scimone-Rowan. With a nod to the 1994 Forum 50 painting, it pays tribute to the role that the Vertical Flight Society has played in advancing vertical flight for 75 years. 

500 years after the passing of Leonardo da Vinci in May 1519, his Helical Air Screw design that took root in the fertile imagination of the helicopter pioneers is depicted metaphorically as the root of vertical flight. Da Vinci’s trademark backwards writing underneath alludes to the scientific knowledge that must be pondered and explored to understand. 

The flower growing from the helical root represents rotating propeller/rotor wake flow. The hummingbird is again, the central focus and inspiration of the painting. The grid in the background that pulls the piece together represents scientific versus artistic interpretation, with the squares representing the building blocks of science and engineering that support the miracle of vertical flight. Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man illuminates the growth of knowledge of vertical flight like the sun provides light for plants to grow. 

The flower and the bird’s wake grid were inspired by computational fluid dynamics models generated by Continuum Dynamics, Inc.

This information is also available as pdf.

Posted 2019-05-01