Lift - Fall 2012 - (Page 22)
A l u m n i i n Acti o n
By L au r i e Davi e s
The X2 in action. Photo courtesy of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.
Kevin BredenBecK (’82, DB) is changing the game with dual rotor helicopter technology
being able to deliver a critical patient to a trauma center in half the time,” Bredenbeck says. The X2’s industry-shattering speed, coupled with its hovering, range and high-altitude capabilities, also opens the door to exciting national defense capabilities, especially in situations where flying through exposed environments poses risk. “Right now in Afghanistan, a helicopter can only penetrate about 43 to 48 percent of that country,” Bredenbeck says. With the X2 technology, he estimates helicopters could cover 97 percent— both because of the X2’s ability to reach higher-altitude, mountainous terrain and because of its ability to fly over rather than through risky areas.
ChAnging the industry
LIFT FALL 2012
evin Bredenbeck (’82, DB) grew up in Chicopee, Mass., near Westover Air Reserve Base in the shadow of B-58 Hustlers, F-86 Sabres, and—best of all— the B-52 bombers departing for missions rotating out to Southeast Asia. Each B-52 departure inspired a blockparty atmosphere, with families picnicking and planting lawn chairs in the street to stare. “We would be jumping and waving at each B-52 as it just cleared the trees,” he says. “The picture windows on neighbors’ houses would crack at the noise and vibrations. It was so cool.” Thundering moments such as these created a quiet infatuation inside. And the boy who dreamed about flight, grew into a man who is now shaping it.
A LifesAving innovAtion
Today, Bredenbeck is director of flight operations and chief test pilot for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, and his handprint is all over the X2 Technology™ high-speed demonstrator helicopter. The innovative X2 features two counter-rotating rigid rotor blades and can cruise at a 250-knot clip. “Imagine a helicopter that’s twice the speed, more efficient and quieter,
Bredenbeck earned the prestigious Iven C. Kincheloe Award, which recognizes excellence in flight testing, for his work on the X2, as well as 2011 accolades that include the 100th Robert J. Collier Award and Flightglobal Aviator of the Year award. Meanwhile, the X2 received the 2009 Breakthrough Award in Innovation from Popular Mechanics and was named one of 2009’s best inventions by Time. “You lift your head up at the end and say, ‘Wow this is pretty good. This can change the rotorcraft industry,’ ” Bredenbeck says. Even with his accomplishments, it’s full speed ahead for Bredenbeck. He and his Sikorsky team are continuing development of rotary wing technology with the S-97 Raider™, a next-generation light tactical helicopter scheduled for its first flight in 2014. He is also working with EmbryRiddle to focus attention toward the development of rotary craft engineering electives. He has invited an Embry-Riddle engineering team to Sikorsky in order to demonstrate rotorcraft technologies around which coursework could be built. “It’s a niche that is very specialized and takes team engineering,” he says. Kevin “And it’s going to be up to all of us Bredenbeck in the future to mature this.”
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Lift - Fall 2012
Lift - Fall 2012
Letter from the President
Wings of Legacy
Carving New Ventures
Releasing the Dragon
Giving to Embry-Riddle
Alumni in Action
Lift - Fall 2012