Frank Piasecki

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Frank Piasecki
Frank Piasecki, 1951.png
Piasecki in the early 1950s
Born(1919-10-24)October 24, 1919
DiedFebruary 11, 2008(2008-02-11) (aged 88)
Haverford, Pennsylvania, U.S. [1]
Alma materNew York University
OccupationHelicopter designer
Known forDesigning tandem rotor helicopters
Spouse(s)Vivian O'Gara Weyerhaeuser
ChildrenNicole, Frederick, John, Lynn, Frank, Michael, and Gregory

Frank Piasecki ( /pəˈsɛki/ pee-ə-SEK-ee; Polish:  [pjaˈsɛtski] ; October 24, 1919 – February 11, 2008) was an American engineer and helicopter aviation pioneer. Piasecki pioneered tandem rotor helicopter designs and created the compound helicopter concept of vectored thrust using a ducted propeller. [2]

Helicopter Type of rotor craft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors

A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward, and laterally. These attributes allow helicopters to be used in congested or isolated areas where fixed-wing aircraft and many forms of VTOL aircraft cannot perform.


Early life and education

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to an immigrant Polish tailor, Piasecki worked for autogyro manufacturers while still attending Overbrook High School, [3] then studied mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania before graduating with a bachelor's degree from New York University. In 1940, he formed PV Engineering Forum with former Pennsylvania classmate Harold Venzie. [4] He built a single-person, single-rotor helicopter designated the PV-2 and flew it on April 11, 1943. This helicopter impressed the United States Navy sufficiently to win Piasecki a development contract. [5]

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

Pennsylvania State of the United States of America

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the northeastern, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.


Piasecki (L) receives the National Medal of Technology from U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Piasecki Reagan.jpg
Piasecki (L) receives the National Medal of Technology from U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
A Piasecki H-21 showing the tandem rotor design Vertol CH-21B Workhorse USAF.jpg
A Piasecki H-21 showing the tandem rotor design

The name PV Engineering was changed to Piasecki Helicopter Corporation in 1946. After a boardroom dispute, Piasecki left Piasecki Helicopter in 1955 and formed the Piasecki Aircraft Company. [6]

Piasecki Helicopter Corporation was a designer and manufacturer of helicopters located in Philadelphia and nearby Morton, Pennsylvania, in the late 1940s and the 1950s. Its founder, Frank Piasecki, was ousted from the company in 1956 and started a new company, Piasecki Aircraft. Piasecki Helicopter was renamed Vertol Corporation in early 1956. Vertol was acquired by Boeing in 1960 and renamed Boeing Vertol.

The Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC) was founded by American vertical flight pioneer Frank Piasecki to develop compound helicopters and other advanced rotorcraft after he was ousted from the leadership of his first company, Piasecki Helicopter.

At Piasecki Aircraft, he participated in the development of the Piasecki 16H-1 the world's first shaft driven compound helicopter, the PA-59K/VZ-8P Flying Geep, the Piasecki PA-97 Helistat heavy vertical airlifter and the Piasecki X-49 experimental compound helicopter.

Piasecki X-49 experimental aircraft by Piasecki Aircraft

The Piasecki X-49 "SpeedHawk" is an American four-bladed, twin-engined experimental high-speed compound helicopter developed by Piasecki Aircraft. The X-49A is based on the airframe of a Sikorsky YSH-60F Seahawk, but utilizes Piasecki's proprietary vectored thrust ducted propeller (VTDP) design and includes the addition of lifting wings. The concept of the experimental program was to apply the VTDP technology to a production military helicopter to determine any benefit gained through increases in performance or useful load.

Personal life

Piasecki married Vivian O'Gara Weyerhaeuser on December 20, 1958. [7] They had seven children: Nicole, Frederick, John, Lynn, Frank, Michael, and Gregory. [6]

His son John W. Piasecki is now President and CEO of Piasecki Aircraft. His son Fred W. Piasecki is Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer of Piasecki Aircraft. [8] His daughter Nicole Piasecki is vice president and general manager of Propulsion Systems for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. [9]

Boeing Commercial Airplanes Designs, assembles, markets and sells commercial jet aircraft

Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) is a division of the Boeing Company. It designs, assembles, markets, and sells jet airliners and business jets ; it also provides product-related maintenance and training to customers worldwide. It operates from division headquarters in Renton, Washington, with more than a dozen engineering, manufacturing, and assembly facilities located throughout the U.S. and internationally. BCA includes the assets of the Douglas Aircraft division of the former McDonnell Douglas Corporation, which merged with Boeing in 1997. In late 2016, BCA was home to some 78,000 employees.

Later life and death

Piasecki died at his home on February 11, 2008 after a series of strokes. He was 88.


See also

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  1. Helicopter pioneer Piasecki dies
  2. Spenser, Jay P. Whirlybirds, A History of the U.S. Helicopter Pioneers. University of Washington Press, 1998. ISBN   0-295-97699-3.
  3. "Piasecki Aircraft Corporation >> About >> PiAC". Piasecki Aircraft Corporation. Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  4. P-V Engineering Forum PV-2 - Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  5. Wall Street Journal, February 16–17, 2008, p. A6
  6. 1 2 HEVESI, Dennis (15 February 2008). "Frank Piasecki, a Pioneer in Helicopters, Is Dead at 88". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  7. Twining, Charles E. F.K. Weyerhaeuser: A Biography. St. Paul, Minn: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1997. p. 289. ISBN   0-87351-356-8
  8. "Company Overview of Piasecki Aircraft Corporation". Bloomberg. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  9. "All Female Flight"