At 15, Caleb Carr was training as a volunteer search-and-rescuer on Larch Mountain in Oregon when his instructor had a heart attack. A Blackhawk helicopter arrived, but strong winds swung the rescue basket too wildly for an airlift. The instructor died. Carr never forgot. While he was at the University of Colorado, Denver, he explored ways to make helicopter lift systems safer and more stable. With cofounder Derek Sikora, Carr found a fix with a device (packed with high-powered fans and motion sensors) that attaches to the bottom of any helicopter hoist to give pilots greater control and counteract violent motions caused by weather or human error. Funded by the U.S. Air Force’s innovation arm, AFWERX, his company, Vita Inclinata, is finalizing $150 million in military supplier contracts. “Investors and the military all came together and said, ‘Holy crap, you’ve got something,’” Carr says. He’s aiming to reel in more deals with clients operating oil rigs and constructi­on cranes, and others with a lot on the line. —Amy Feldman, Monica Melton, Alan Ohnsman

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