BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Charles Huron Kaman (keh-MAN'), an aviation pioneer who founded Kaman Aerospace Corp., has died. He was 91.
The Bloomfield, Conn., company said Kaman died Monday.
The company said Kaman was a 26-year-old engineer when he started Kaman Aircraft Co. in the garage of his mother's Connecticut home in 1945 with $2,000 from two friends. He was chief executive for 54 years, from 1945 to 1999.
"He led a remarkable life as an inventor, entrepreneur, musician, humanitarian and visionary. His career was, in many ways, the epitome of the American dream," said Neal J. Keating, chairman and CEO of Kaman.
He started the company to demonstrate a rotor concept he devised to make helicopters more stable and easier to fly. Today it's a $1.2 billion company that makes and distributes a wide range of parts for commercial, military, and general aviation fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
Kaman's company has been credited with breakthroughs including the first gas turbine-powered helicopter, the first twin-turbine-powered helicopter and the first remotely controlled helicopter.
Among his technical accomplishments, Keating said Kaman was most proud of the lives that the Kaman H-43 "Husky" helicopter saved by flying rescue missions during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
In 1996 President Bill Clinton awarded Kaman the National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest recognition for contributions to technical excellence. A year later he received the National Aeronautic Association's Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in recognition of his contributions to American aviation.
With his late wife, Roberta, Kaman also founded Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, which breeds and trains guide dogs for the blind.
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