Frank Piasecki

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Frank Piasecki
Piasecki Reagan.jpg
Frank Piasecki (L) receives the National Medal of Technology from President Ronald Reagan
Born (1919-10-24)October 24, 1919
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died February 11, 2008(2008-02-11) (aged 88)
Haverford, Pennsylvania[1]
Ethnicity Polish
Citizenship United States
Alma mater New York University
Occupation Helicopter designer
Known for 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.

A Piasecki H-21 showing the tandem rotor design


Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to an immigrant Polish tailor, Piasecki worked for autogyro manufacturers while still attending Overbrook High School,[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

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.

Marriage and children[edit]

Piasecki was married to Vivian O'Gara Weyerhaeuser on December 20, 1958.[6] They had seven children, Nicole, Frederick, John, Lynn, Frank, Michael, and Gregory.[5]

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.[7] His daughter Nicole Piasecki is vice president of Business Development & Strategic Integration for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.[8]


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


See also[edit]


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

External links[edit]