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May 2006 edition

Helicopter pioneer dies aged 81

Stanley Hiller, who designed new technology for helicopters while still a teenager, died last month at his home in Atherton, California, aged 81, of complications from Alzheimer's disease and pneumonia.

"He built and flew the first helicopter on the West Coast in 1944 when he was 19," recalled Willie Turner, vice-president for marketing at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, which Hiller established in 1998.

At its peak Hiller Aircraft, was one of the “big four” in helicopter production, along with the Sikorsky Aircraft Company, the Piasecki Helicopter Corporation and the Bell Aircraft Corporation.

By the time he was 17 Hiller had come up with the premise that stacking two sets of blades whirring in opposite directions on top of one another was safer and more efficient than the tra....

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