Igor Vasilevich Bensen (Russian: И́горь Васи́льевич Бенсен; April 1, 1917 – February 10, 2000) was a Russian-American engineer. He founded Bensen Aircraft, a US company which produced a successful line of gyrogliders (rotor kites) and autogyros.

Igor Bensen Figure at the North Carolina Museum of History

Early life and educationEdit

He was born in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, and eventually reached the United States in 1937. He began studies at age 17 while in Belgium, won a scholarship to study in the US three years later. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1940, later becoming a Registered Professional Engineer.


Bensen flew his first towed gyroglider in 1954.[1] He founded the Popular Rotorcraft Association (PRA)[2] in 1962, a non-profit interest group for owners and homebuilders of autogyros and helicopters, based in Mentone, Indiana. He was the group's president[3] from 1962 to 1971.

Honors and awardsEdit

He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Indiana University in 1968.[4]

Personal life and deathEdit

Bensen died from Parkinson's disease at age 82.[4]


  1. ^ Francis, Devon (July 1954). "He Rides a Kite". Popular Science. p. 98 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Gyroplanes Gyrocopters and Autogyros: Aviation's best kept Secret" (PDF). pra.org. Popular Rotorcraft Association. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  3. ^ Palmer, Alex (November 7, 1971). "Gyrocopter Popularity Soaring". The New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Farnham, Alan (May 29, 2000). "Dr. Bensen's Magnificent Flying Machine". Forbes. Retrieved July 24, 2018.

External linksEdit