Frank Nicholas Piasecki, aeronautical/mechanical engineer, pilot and pioneer in the development of transport helicopters and vertical lift aircraft was founder of Piasecki Helicopter Corporation and Piasecki Aircraft Corporation.
It was in 1940 that the 21-year-old Piasecki and other young engineers from the University of Pennsylvania founded the PV Engineering Forum which eventually evolve into what is today the Rotorcraft Division of the Boeing Company. Piasecki flew their first helicopter, the PV-2, on 11 April 1943.
Thirteen months later in March 1945, Piasecki flew the world's first successful tandem rotor helicopter (the XHRP-1) which was also the first helicopter designed for the U.S. Navy. Popularly called the "Flying Banana", it was the forerunner of the modern tandem rotor transport and was capable of carrying as many passengers as comparably powered fixed wing airplanes and is entrusted to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington as one of America's historic aircraft.
In 1946, the P-V Engineering Forum became Piasecki Helicopter Corporation, with Piasecki as the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Piasecki sparked further design and production of transport helicopters which saw service in the U.S. Navy, Army, and Air Force, the Royal Canadian Navy and Air Force, and the French Navy.
The Piasecki Helicopter Corporation was sold to Boeing Airplane Company and its name changed to the Vertol Division. In the late 1950's, Piasecki and his original founders formed the Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC) to continue research work on new VTOL aircraft.
Mr. Piasecki served on numerous corporate and charitable boards. He was a director of Crown, Cork and Seal Company (Crown Holdings, Inc.), The American Helicopter Society, The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), The American Helicopter Museum, The Foreign Policy Research Institute, The Kosciuszko Foundation and the Piasecki Foundation. His life was also enriched by relationships with other aeronautical pioneers, including Louis Breguet, and Giovanni Agusta.
His personal interests included a passion for music, dancing, photography and sailing. As a student he was a concert violinist, serving as the concertmaster of the University of Pennsylvania Orchestra.
Mr. Piasecki was born in Philadelphia on October 24th 1919 and was the only son of Polish immigrants, Nikodem and Emilia Piasecki. He graduated from Overbrook High School, and went on to study mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, before earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Guggenhiem School of Aeronautics of New York University in 1940.
He died at his home in Haverford, PA on Monday, February 11th 2008. He was 88-years old.
Mr. Piasecki is survived by his wife of 50 years (the former Vivian O'Gara Weyerhaeuser), seven children, and his grandchildren.