Frank Piasecki

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Frank Piasecki
Frank Piasecki, 1951.png
Piasecki in the early 1950s
Born (1919-10-24)October 24, 1919
Died February 11, 2008(2008-02-11) (aged 88)
Haverford, Pennsylvania, U.S.[1]
Nationality American
Alma mater New York University
Occupation Helicopter designer
Known for Designing tandem rotor helicopters
Spouse(s) Vivian O'Gara Weyerhaeuser
Children Nicole, 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]

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]


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

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]

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.

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]

Later life and death

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


See also


  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. ^ a b 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"

External links

  • Piasecki Aircraft Corporation web site
  • The Boy Who Grew Flying Bananas by L.B. White 1951 article on Piasecki at age 31 and his early helicopters. Rare photos.
  • Frank Piasecki biography on National Aviation Hall of Fame site
  • Summary of Frank's aviation legacy from AIN online
  • Frank Piasecki at Find a Grave
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