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The UH-4 commuter was intended to take the place of the automobile. Ultimately the company decided to move forward with a single main rotor and tail rotor configuration which eventually led to the widely popular Hiller 360. (Courtesy of the Hiller Aviation Museum)

assembled in nine minutes on the ground and was capable of flying and hovering just like a larger helicopter (Stanley Hiller Jr. Biography, n.d.). The VZ-1 Pawnee or Flying Platform was a military ducted fan project. Its maiden flight in 1955 marked the first time that a ducted fan air- craft successfully completed a vertical takeoff and landing. Several tilt rotor Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft were also built, including the Vought Hiller Ryan XC-142A. With a gross weight of over 40,000 pounds and a max speed of 430 miles per hour the XC-142A was the largest VTOL aircraft ever flown at the time (Spenser, 2003). One of the most impressive endeavors was the significant strides Hiller Heli- copters made in rotor tip powered heli- copters. Stanley Hiller realized that powering a helicopter’s blades right at the tips would decrease overall weight and in- crease the power available for lift by elim- inating the torque that necessitated a tail rotor. The entire Hiller team was con- vinced that this design could be used in everything from small commuter heli- copters to large aerial cranes. Several years of intense work in tip jet power be- gan in 1947 and culminated with multiple military contracts and the first ever Amer- ican produced tip powered helicopters. The HJ-1 or Hiller Hornet tip powered he- licopter first flew in 1950 and later both the Army and Navy would accept a small

quantity of military variants for testing and evaluation. Out of this tip powered

effort was born the Hiller 8RJ2B ramjet engine, which was the first American de- signed and built jet engine to be approved for production (Spenser, 2003). This is just a short sample of the tremendous re- search and development work that was done. At one point the Advanced Re- search Division was simultaneously in- volved in 13 different classified projects for the military. By the end of the 1950s so much non helicopter work was being done that Hiller Helicopters changed its name back to Hiller Aircraft Corporation. In 1960 the U.S. military announced a competition for a new Light Observation Helicopter or LOH. Winning this contract meant a huge military helicopter order that would provide Hiller Aircraft with a much needed influx of funding and a significant potential to cross over to a commercial variant. The highly successful Hiller R&D program was not generating much money and winning the LOH contract was vital to the continued success of Hiller

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www.ROTORCRAFTPRO.com • March 2010

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