Frank Nicolas Piasecki (24th October 1919 – 11th February 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.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to an immigrant Polish tailor, Piasecki worked for autogyro manufacturers while still attending Overbrook High School,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. He built a single-person, single-rotor helicopter designated the PV-2 and flew it on 11th April 1943. This helicopter impressed the United States Navy sufficiently to win Piasecki a development contract.
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.
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 was married to Vivian O’Gara Weyerhaeuser on 20th December 1958. They had seven children, Nicole, Frederick, John, Lynn, Frank, Michael, and Gregory.
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. His daughter Nicole Piasecki is vice president of Business Development & Strategic Integration for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Piasecki died at his home on 11th February 2008 after a series of strokes. He was 88.
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