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Stanley Hiller Jr.

By Brad McNally - Contributing Editor

In the early 1940s the American Heli- copter Industry was emerging in the northeastern United States. Igor Sikorsky was building helicopters in New England, Frank Piasecki was closing in on the sec- ond successful American helicopter in Philadelphia and in upstate New York Arthur Young and Larry Bell were lay- ing the frame work for the first commer- cially produced helicopter. On the west coast a young man by the name of Stan- ley Hiller Jr. was also beginning to de- velop an aircraft capable of vertical flight. Like all of these men Stanley Hiller’s quest to develop a helicopter was full of challenges. He overcame these chal- lenges to design several successful heli- copter models along with creating one of the most innovative research and devel- opment programs of its time. To see how someone so young and so far away from the epicenter of the emerging American helicopter industry was able to become so successful you need to go back to the start.

Stanley Hiller Jr. was born in Califor- nia on November 15, 1924. His father, Stanley Hiller Sr., was an engineer, ac-

The YROE-1 Rotorcycle first flew in 1957. It had a gross weight of 546 lbs, cruised at 52 mph with a maximum rate of climb of 1160 ft/min and a range at sea level of 166 miles. (Courtesy of the Hiller Aviation Museum)

Stanley Hiller Jr. with his original XH-44 Hiller-copter in 2005 at the Hiller Aviation Museum. The XH-44 is owned by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and is currently on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (Courtesy of the Hiller Aviation Museum)

complished inventor and aviation pioneer who had built and flown his own airplane in 1910 at the age of 20 years old. Stanley Sr. was a significant influence in Stanley Jr.’s life. When he was asked at the age of 23 how he had been able to achieve so much at such a young age, his answer was “I was fortunate in my choice of a father (Stanley Hiller Jr. Biography, n.d.).” By the time he was eight years old his father

taught him to fly and he developed an in- terest in model airplanes. When he was ten he used his father’s tools to turn an old washing machine engine into a motorized buggy that he drove around the neighbor- hood. At the age of 13, he crashed one of his model airplanes but was able to sal- vage the engine which he later put into a model race car. This powered model car

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