Frank Piasecki

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Frank Nicolas Piasecki
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
SpouseVivian Weyerhaeuser Piasecki
ChildrenNicole, Frederick, John, Lynn, Frank, Michael, and Gregory

Frank Nicolas 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[edit]

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. He was employed by the Platt-LePage Aircraft Company as a control engineer on their XR-1 twin-rotor project.[4] In 1940, he formed PV Engineering Forum with former Pennsylvania classmate Harold Venzie.[5] 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.[6]


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 was forced out of Piasecki Helicopter in 1955, and formed the Piasecki Aircraft Company.[7]

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 (also known as the AirGeep) the Piasecki PA-97 Helistat heavy vertical airlifter and the Piasecki X-49 experimental compound helicopter.

Personal life[edit]

Piasecki married Vivian Weyerhaeuser on December 20, 1958.[8] They had seven children: Nicole, Frederick, John, Lynn, Frank, Michael, and Gregory.[7]

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.[9] His daughter Nicole Piasecki was the vice president and general manager of Propulsion Systems for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.[10][11]

Later life and death[edit]

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


See also[edit]


  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. ^ "Platt-LePage XR-1". Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  5. ^ P-V Engineering Forum PV-2 Archived 2012-01-03 at the Wayback Machine - Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  6. ^ Wall Street Journal, February 16–17, 2008, p. A6
  7. ^ a b HEVESI, Dennis (15 February 2008). "Frank Piasecki, a Pioneer in Helicopters, Is Dead at 88". New York Times. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  8. ^ Twining, Charles E. F.K. Weyerhaeuser: A Biography. St. Paul, Minn: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1997. p. 289. ISBN 0-87351-356-8
  9. ^ "Company Overview of Piasecki Aircraft Corporation". Bloomberg. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Nicole Piasecki retires from Boeing after 25 years". The Seattle Times. 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  11. ^ "All Female Flight"
  12. ^ "Enshrinee Frank Piasecki". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved 27 February 2023.

External links[edit]