Whirlybirds by Jay P. Spenser
A History of the U.S. Helicopter Pioneers

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No one person or group invented the helicopter. Basically unstable, filled with unreliable parts, and assailed by countless forces and vibrations, the helicopter presented its inventors with problems that were more complex than those faced by the Wright brothers four decades earlier. In the United States, four men became the pioneers who, working independently along parallel lines during the 1940s, solved the problems of technology and created the conditions for America to succeed in bringing this new machine to volume production. Russian-born Igor Sikorsky was a visionary whose pathbreaking experience spanned fixed-wing and rotary-wing aviation, thus linking the "earlybirds" to the "whirlybirds." Frank Piasecki's ideas and showmanship propelled his company (later to become Vertol and today Boeing Helicopter) to the forefront as the world's supplier of big helicopters. Arthur Young's invention of the Bell helicopter was part of his lifelong quest to reconcile mathematics, science, and fundamental philosophy in an integrated theory of how the universe operates. Stanley Hiller, Jr.'s company was the first to define and manufacture a civil helicopter to truly meet the needs of the marketplace, and he was the only pioneer to succeed in the absence of either military or corporate support.

About Jay P. Spenser

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Jay P. Spenser is a marketing, sales, and technical writer with the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group in Seattle. He was formerly a curator of aviation at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and at the Museum of Flight, Seattle. He is the author of seven books of aviation history -- including Vertical Challenge: The Hiller Aircraft Story -- as well as many feature articles.
Published October 1, 1998 by University of Washington Press. 512 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction

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