Charles Kaman. Photo courtesy of Kaman Corp.
On this day in 1945, 26-year-old Charles Kaman with his invention of the servo-flap controlled rotor founded his namesake company, Kaman Aircraft Co. in Bloomfield, Connecticut. By the time he retired in 2001, the company had grown from its initial purpose of manufacturing helicopters to a corporation that also distributes various other products, such as motors and chemicals. Kaman aircraft had set many records and is currently a billion-dollar company.
Kaman's repertoire began with the K-125, which made its first flight in 1947. In 1949, the U.S. Navy purchased two and the U.S. Coast Guard purchased one of the aircraft's improved version — the K-225. A modified version became the world's first gas turbine-powered helicopter in 1951.
Kaman introduced the K-MAX in 1992. It was the first heavy-lift helicopter designed to carry external loads rather than people. An unmanned version is currently being developed with Lockheed Martin. That would be deployed to Afghanistan.
During this demonstration, the optionally piloted Kaman K-MAX(TM) and the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA) engaged in collaborative firefighting and search-and-rescue with the Indago quadrotor and Desert Hawk III fixed wing unmanned aircraft system (UAS) providing information, surveillance and reconnaissance. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin
Kaman's innovations in vibration transmission and composite materials contributed to his other project — Ovation Instruments in 1965. Kaman created the world's first electric acoustic guitars with a "roundback" design using aerospace materials.
Kaman died January 31, 2011, at 91 years old due to complications with pneumonia.