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RCP0110_0_Hangar Talk 2/15/10 5:01 PM Page 14
Frank Piasecki poses before a flight in winter
flying attire. (Photo courtesy of the Piasecki
Aircraft Corporation)
namically balancing the blades they all
had both the same weight and the same
center of gravity. This dynamic balanc-
ing along with the unique blade design,
developed by Piasecki and Daland, gave
the PV-2 remarkable stability even in high
winds which was something that had not
been accomplished in a helicopter up to
that time. This would be an important
feature in future designs as it allowed scal-
ing up the size of the blades for larger he-
licopters. On April 11, 1943 with Frank
Piasecki at the controls, the PV-2 suc-
cessfully lifted off of the ground for the
first time making it only the second Amer-
ican helicopter to do so. Thus began a
long line of successful Piasecki heli-
copters and the first of many test flights
Piasecki and it makes what the PV Engi- an engine failure. The PV-2’s Franklin for Frank Piasecki. At the time of the PV-
neering Forum was about to do even more engine was one of the few things that was 2’s first flight he had only 14 hours as a
extraordinary. bought new. Led by Frank Piasecki’s pilot, all in fixed wing aircraft (Spenser).
The team set about designing its heli- keen understanding of aerodynamics, the In October of 1943 Frank Piasecki flew
copter. For the first year there were no forum members developed a unique the PV-2 in front of a crowd of military
paid employees, the members of the Fo- method to dynamically balance the rotor and government officials at National Air-
rum worked nights and weekends design- blades. Up until that time rotor blades had port in Washington, DC in an effort to in-
ing and testing new ideas. The original only been balanced statically allowing terest them in the helicopter and the PV
helicopter plan was to the build the PV- them to weigh the same but not giving Engineering Forum. It was one of the
1. This helicopter would have a main ro- them the same center of gravity. By dy- most important days of his life and largely
tor, but in place of the tail rotor there
would be a ducted fan to counteract torque
(Spenser, 1998). This idea had a lot of
merit and showed the tremendous fore-
sight of Frank Piasecki and his group as
it was a precursor to today’s NOTAR sys-
tems. However it was complicated and
the forum members decided to shelve the
PV-1 in order to develop the PV-2 which
would be a tail rotor configured heli-
copter. The PV-2 was not without its own
challenges, not the least of which was
finding parts and pieces that could be
bought with the meager budget that was
available to build it. 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 Stude-
baker to allow for autorotation in case of
Frank Piasecki at the controls of the PV-2 the
second successful American helicopter. (Photo
courtesy of the Piasecki Aircraft Corporation)
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