Glidden Doman, helicopter pioneer

Glidden Doman, a pioneer in the helicopter industry, died Monday, June 6, at Hartford Hospital. He was 95 years old and had lived in Ridgefield from 1958 to 1967.

In 1945, Glid Doman founded Doman Helicopters Inc., which produced small helicopters and was headquartered at Danbury Airport. The company, which closed in 1969, had as many as 130 employees. Two Doman helicopters are now on display at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks.

Glidden Sweet Doman was born in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1921. In his teens, he built motorized go-carts and an aerodynamically streamlined Soapbox Derby racer, winning a regional race in Syracuse when he was 15.

Soon after he graduated from the University of Michigan, his brother invited him to attend a Society of Automotive Engineers meeting where Igor Sikorsky was speaking. That sparked an interest in helicopters — still a very new invention — and their rotor blades, which back then suffered quickly from fatigue.

In 1943, Doman went to work for Sikorsky in Bridgeport, participating in intensive experimentation and flight testing, and making considerable improvements in the helicopters' blade life. It was during World War II, and his contributions were so vital that Igor Sikorsky himself appealed to the draft board to keep him on the test program.

Later at Doman Helicopters, he developed innovations decades earlier than larger competitors; some of them are now standard in today's helicopter technology.

After his company closed, Doman spent the next few years with Boeing, designing rotors for its Vertol XCH-62 heavy-lift helicopter and performing other rotor research.

He then turned to a new career, becoming chief systems engineer of the wind energy program at Hamilton Standard, developing very large wind turbines, which have some common technology with helicopters.

In 2003, he formed a new company, Gamma Ventures Inc., to market production rights for the Gamma turbines he helped design in Italy.

Doman, who lived in Granby, remained active well into his 90s and, until his death, was the last founder of one of the original half-dozen companies in the U.S. helicopter industry still living.

He was a founding member of the American Helicopter Society, and has two of his helicopters on display at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks. As a youth he was the winner of the 1936 Syracuse Regional Soap Box Derby race and competed in the national race in Cleveland.

His wife, Joan, a former teacher at Ridgefield High School, died in 2003.

He is survived by a son, Steve Doman and his wife Margaret of Redmond, Wash.; two daughters, Terry Gibbon and her husband Stephen of Medford Lakes, N.J.,  JoAnn Barefoot of Boston, Mass.; eight grandchildren; and 14 great grandchildren. A graveside service will be held Sunday, June 12, at 1 p.m. in Elbridge Rural Cemetery, Elbridge, N.Y.  Memorial contributions may be made to:  New England Air Museum, 36 Perimeter Road, Windsor Locks, CT 06096.  Hayes-Huling & Carmon Funeral Home has care of arrangements.  To leave on-line condolences visit