Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 31, 2012

Me-TV, Frankenstein and heroes

We are surrounded by heroes. Firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, paramedics and military personnel all classify under the broad heading of “hero.” We especially appreciate heroes who save many lives. While we rightly honor heroes we know, some of the world’s most amazing heroes are unknown to us.

Last week I was visiting one of our church members at the Fairmont Rehabilitation facility across from Howard Regional Health System. I remember when that facility housed Manor Care, and, for many years before that, the Americana Nursing Home. As I was contemplating how times had changed, my thoughts were interrupted by the noisy, whirring blades of a helicopter landing on the hospital’s roof. Another patient would be transported to Indianapolis!

Helicopters have saved many lives, but not only in the civilian sector. The other day, I had turned the television remote to Me-TV. The wife and I watched reruns of “The Green Hornet” and were overjoyed to be reunited with an old Chicago icon, Svengoolie. Sven introduced an old Frankenstein movie (was it “Son of Frankenstein”?). We didn’t watch the movie, but we loved the old horror-comedian.

A day or two later I turned on the TV (we go for days sometimes without watching programs) and “M*A*S*H” happened to be on. The wife and I really never cared for “M*A*S*H” (sorry, folks), so we turned to the Food Network. Yet the thought came to my mind once again: “I wonder how many lives helicopters have saved – especially in the military.” Between civilian and military rescues, I would guess hundreds of thousands.

Who invented this flying insect-like transport? None other than Igor Sikorsky! After immigrating to the United States from Russia in 1919, Sikorsky founded the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in 1923. According to Wikipedia: “In 1939 Sikorsky designed and flew the … first viable American helicopter, which pioneered the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today.” Incidentally, the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is still going strong!

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