Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Fantastic "Hot Rod" Snowmobile......

Igor Ivanovitch Sikorsky is my favourite aviation designer ever, the man was brilliant. Master mechanic, dreamer, immigrant, he was a driven man. We all know about Sikorsky's multiplying achievements in the aircraft and helicopter industry after he came to New York in 1919, but what about before that?

As a young man, he was fascinated by mechanics, and like a true young lad, tinkered. I can remember some of the contraptions I made as a kid, some worked, some didn't. We used to fly remote-controlled airplanes, and when we broke the wings off, we would take the Cox engines and attach them to a boat, or a car. Igor dreamed larger.

Anyways, Joseph-Armand Bombardier, a Canadian from Valcourt, Quebec, is widely considered as the inventor of what we know as the "Ski-Doo". A skied vehicle able to traverse snowy terrain. In 1922, Bombardier built his first machine, a propeller-driven sleigh. It was powered by the engine from a Model T Ford, and had a frame with four ski runners. The front runners were steered by a rope, and the engine was mounted at the rear, driving a hand-carved wooden propeller. There was a single seat at the front.

Years ago I had a subscription to Time-Life Books "Epic of Flight". Lo and behold, as I read "The Helicopters", who is leaping off the page at me from a propeller-driven sleigh in 1912? You guessed it! Igor Sikorsky!

Whoever you consider as the inventor of the "ski-doo" (generic name for all), it has made an impact on Canada, and the frozen reaches of Russia. Sikorsky? Bombardier? Imagine if they would have been partners in aviation and manufacturing! Sikorsky-Bombardier! What a company that would have been. Anyways, my mind is running away now, time to quit "blithering". Check out the "necessity-inspired" invention from the early 1900s, to where it is today!

Igor Sikorsky takes his buddies for a ride in his "prop-sleigh", 1912. Notice the blurred prop, and snow being thrown from the skis, indicating motion. Love the "headlight"! Posted by Picasa

Russian "Aero-Sled" from the late 1920s, early 1930s. Posted by Picasa

A Russian military Aero-Sled used against the Finns during the "Winter War", 1939-40. Posted by Picasa

A "Bombardier", used by Commercial ice-fishermen all across Canada. They were also used as "school buses" in remote communities....... Posted by Picasa

I think Sikorsky and Bombardier would smile at this latest evolution of their inventions.......

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"T-Bucket Snowmobile"! I'm sure they would pull out their tools, tune the engine, and take turns "taking a spin"!

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