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Stanley Hiller Sr. (left) and Stanley Hiller Jr. (right) stand next to the XH-44 Hiller-copter inside the University of California at Berkeley football stadium in 1944.

(Courtesy of the Hiller Aviation Museum)

became very popular in his neighborhood. He started building them for his friends and the demand quickly outpaced his manufacturing ability. In 1940 at the age of 16, he founded Hiller Industries to pro- duce the powered model car that became known as the Hiller Comet (Spenser, 2003). Within a year Hiller Industries was building 350 Comets a month, with yearly sales totaling one hundred thousand dol-

lars. Stanley Hiller Jr. and his father in- vented a process to make high strength aluminum castings to build the metal bod- ies of the Comet race car. By the time he had enrolled as a freshman at the Univer- sity of California at Berkeley World War II was looming and Hiller Industries was using this process to make high strength aluminum parts for U.S. Military fighter planes.

Stanley Hiller’s interest in rotary-wing flight began when he was 15 years old. He had read about the work that Igor Sikorsky was doing and began to develop his own ideas about how to build a heli- copter. While still in high school he started building model helicopters and he left college after only one year to pursue helicopter design full time. In 1942 he sold Hiller Industries and formed Hiller Aircraft. Hiller Aircraft started with only three employees, an engineer and two jack-of-all-trades craftsmen who were adept at metal working, welding and ma- chining. Although he did not have a for- mal engineering degree, Stanley Hiller knew that a coaxial rotor design would eliminate the power requirements of a tail rotor giving him extra power for lift. He was undaunted by the complexity of the coaxial rotor head and along with his three employees began work on this design at the end of 1942. The Hiller team faced many challenges, not the least of which was getting parts for the new helicopter, specifically an engine. Due to war time restrictions they had to manufacture many of their own parts. Stanley Hiller himself made several trips to Washington DC to plead his case for an engine and after sev- eral months of lobbying and many rejec- tions he was granted permission by the War Production Board to purchase a 90 horsepower air cooled Franklin engine (Spenser, 2003). By the end of 1943 the XH-44 Hiller-copter was completed and ready for ground runs. Due to a limited budget Stanley Hiller took on test pilot duties. The first ground runs of the XH- 44 were conducted in the garage where the helicopter had been built. After let- ting the engine run, Stanley Hiller applied pitch to the rotor blades creating a vac- uum above the rotor disk which sucked in the skylights of the garage (Hiller XH-44, n.d.). The following test flights were done

A tip powered Army YH-32A. Notice the jet engines mounted on the rotor blades at the tips. This particular one was tested as a possible Army Light Attack Helicopter. (Courtesy of the Hiller Aviation Museum)

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