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Opposite: The Collier Trophy is awarded to Harold Pitcairn and his associates by President Herbert Hoover on April 22, 1931.


Standing in front of a Pitcairn PCA-2 on the White


House lawn are from left to right Orville Wright, President Hoover, James Ray the PCA-2 pilot, Colonel Clarence Young the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aviation, Senator Hiram Bingham the president of the National Aeronautical Association and Harold Pitcairn.


Below: On April 22, 1931, a Pitcairn PCA-2 with James G. "Jim" Ray at the controls became the first rotary-wing aircraft to land at the White House.


Ray is shown departing


from the White House lawn following the awarding of the Collier Trophy to Harold Pitcairn and his associates by President Hoover.


Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Bruce H. Charnov, Hofstra University 2003 "From Autogiro to Giroplane" Conference


models were designed, built and demonstrated in Spain, France and England. In 1925, an early English pilot named James Weir saw an Autogiro demonstration flight. Weir was so impressed with the aircraft that he brought it to the atten- tion of his brother, an English Lord and several English fin- anciers. On March 24, 1926, this group reached an agree- ment with Juan de la Cierva to establish the Cierva Autogiro Company Limited (Charnov, 2003). The purpose of the new company was to develop the Autogiro through licensing and selling Cierva’s designs and patents. Juan de la Cierva became the technical director of the company and subse- quent work was relocated to England.


Around the same time that the Cierva Autogiro Company was starting up, the Autogiro caught the attention of an American businessman and aviation pioneer named Harold Pitcairn.


Pitcairn was born in 1897 outside of


Philadelphia, PA. Harold’s father John was a Scottish immi- grant who became a wealthy industrialist after co-founding the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (Smith, 1981). Pitcairn became interested in aviation at an early age.


In 1914,


Harold’s father arranged for his son to have an internship at Glenn Curtiss’s airplane factory. Harold not only got expe- rience building airplanes but also saw first hand the legal bat- tles that Curtiss faced for patent infringement accusations from the Wright Brothers. Similar legal issues would come to play a major role in Harold Pitcairn’s life many years later.


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