Sunday, November 30, 2014

Frank Piaseki, Polish immigrant's kid infatuated with helicopters, was set to invent from age 7, when he got a ride in a barnstormer

Piasecki got his first taste of flight at age seven, when his father bought him a plane ride in a barnstormer.

 Ten years later in 1936, a teenaged Piasecki enjoyed an autogyro ride with America’s first licensed rotary wing pilot, Lou Leavitt.

Frank Piasecki was as resourceful as he was determined and so it was that he and his team found parts ranging from a scrap fixed wing fuselage to a freewheeling clutch from a Studebaker to allow for autorotation in case of an engine failure. The PV-2’s Franklin engine was one of the few things that was bought new.

 The PV-2 was the first U.S. helicopter with dynamically balanced blades and cyclic control which successfully flew on 11 April, 1943, following Sikorsky’s successful flight of the VS-300 helicopter in 1939.

That first flight by Mr. Piasecki was, in a way, more successful than intended. When he stepped into the cockpit, Mr. Piasecki had only 14 hours of flight experience, in a small plane, a Piper Cub. The PV-2 was tethered to the ground by a clothes line and was supposed to rise only a foot or two. “The line broke,” Mr. Connor said, “and he was free-flying this totally untried aircraft with no training.”

 Soon after, with about 10 hours of helicopter flight experience, Mr. Piasecki attached the PV-2 — tail first, and not on a trailer — to the back of his Studebaker and drove to Washington... But the helicopter wheels had no bearings and rapidly heated.

“He had to stop the car every 10 to 15 minutes and splash some water to cool them off,” Mr. Connor said. “One time, he had to hop a fence to get some water and was chased by a bull.”

In October of 1943 Frank flew the PV-2 in front of a crowd of military and government officials at National Airport in Washington, DC in an effort to interest them in the helicopter.

notice the rubber bulb and brass horn by the pilots open left window.. how it would be useful, I've no idea. With the engine on I doubt it would be heard by anyone by the pilot

It was one of the most important days of his life and largely due to his outstanding piloting ability it was a success. After the demonstration concluded a Civil Aviation Authority representative presented Frank Piasecki with his helicopter license, the first ever issued to someone without a fixed wing license.

  He went on to produce many successful helicopters, like the HUP 2 Retriever, H-21 Work Horse, YH-16 Transporter, CH-46 Sea Knight, and CH-47 Chinook.

But more interesting than building helicopters, Piaseki was the Army's go to for flying platform developement, like the PA-59 line

the H21

In 1944, the forum received a Navy contract on behalf of the Coast Guard to construct a transport helicopter.

It was here that Frank Piasecki would leave his greatest mark on the history of the helicopter, he accepted this challenge knowing full well that failure would set the helicopter back years if not decades but that success would propel it forward an equal amount.

He chose a tandem rotor configuration knowing that two main rotors could cancel out each other’s torque effect and greatly increase lifting ability by eliminating the power requirement of a tail rotor.

 Thirteen months later, in March of 1945, with Frank Piasecki at the controls, the XHRP-X Dogship became the first successful tandem rotor helicopter, capable of carrying three times the payload of any other helicopter, could carry 10 men excluding pilots and reached speeds of up to 110 mph.

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