Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America


Ray Leoni, Sikorsky Engineer, “Father of the Black Hawk”

Leoni was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on May 5, 1929, the son of Angelo N. Leoni and Millie E. Maselli. He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Brown University and a master’s in engineering from Yale University. He began his career at Sikorsky Aircraft as a junior engineer in 1951 and retired 41 years later as Senior Vice President for Engineering and Advanced Programs.

Leoni was awarded 10 patents, including the Black Hawk helicopter design patent. He authored the book Black Hawk: The Story of a World Class Helicopter, published in 2007. After retiring, Leoni served as a consultant to Sikorsky and as a trustee of the Igor I. Sikorsky Historical Archives.

Leoni joined VFS in 1952 and was named a Technical Fellow in 1990. He received the prestigious VFS John J. Schneider Historical Achievement Award in 2009 for his Black Hawk book, which preserves, in great detail, the entire design, production and service history of the helicopter.

He penned a look at the early days of Sikorsky, “Recollections of a Sikorsky Junior Engineer,” published in Vertiflite, Sept/Oct 2019.

Leoni’s hobbies included building and flying radio control model airplanes, as well as boating, fishing and clamming in Nantucket Sound. He was a 25-year member of the Branford Yacht Club.

Ray Dennis Leoni, 94, of Woodbridge, Connecticut, and Centerville, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully at home on May 10, 2023.

Source: In memoriam - Vertiflite July/August 2023