Just off Exit 32 of I-95 in Stratford is a hidden gem of Connecticut history: the National Helicopter Museum. Stratford is, in fact, home to the nation’s first museum dedicated solely to the chopper! A fitting location as the town is generally considered to be the birthplace of the American helicopter industry.
Founded in 1983, the Museum sits on the Eastbound side of the Metro North tracks at the Stratford train station and is home to decades of helicopter history. No matter what you call a them - chopper, whirly bird, egg beater, copter - by any name helicopters are an impressive piece of machinery and American ingenuity. Our partners at the Museum, staffed entirely by volunteers, showcase the history beautifully.
The Museum has hundreds of pictures, models and other artifacts telling the story of the helicopter’s development starting with early attempts in Europe in the early 1900’s. The Museum also has the full story of the first practical helicopter built by Igor Sikorsky in Stratford, about one mile from the museum itself back in 1939.
Museum volunteer and Board Member Ron Pavluvcik’s passion for the Museum and its mission really comes through, particularly for the pioneer of the helicopter age and former Easton resident, Igor Sikorsky.
“Sikorsky is a local legend and a person we want more people in this area to know about. He was truly an incredible individual,” said Pavluvcik. “If there really is life after death, outside of my relatives, he is the first person I want to meet after I pass away."
That’s quite an endorsement! If your curiosity is piqued and you’d like to get involved in supporting the Museum, they are looking for volunteers. Right now the Museum has an immediate need for tour guides who can help visitors learn about the rich history and heritage of helicopter aviation in Connecticut. They are also looking for folks to staff the Museum’s small souvenir gift shop.
Pavluvcik says volunteers are needed to work one or more three-hour shifts per month, either by themselves after training, or with a second volunteer. Training can be done very quickly and again, the need is immediate. The Museum is open five months a year from Memorial Day in May until the end of October. It is open five days a week, from Wednesday to Sunday from 1-4 p.m. There is no charge for admission.
As always, you can get much more information about the Museum and other unique volunteer opportunities here in Fairfield County by visiting our website: www.volunteersquare.com.