Stanley Hiller, Jr., 81, died peacefully at home April 20 of complications associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Founder of the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, Calif., Hiller began his aviation career while still a teenager. After leading a company that produced thousands of helicopters for military and commercial markets worldwide, he began a second career as a specialist in turning around troubled companies.
Hiller’s innovations in the technology of vertical flight included the first helicopter flown in the western United States, the world’s first successful co-axial helicopter, the Flying Platform, the one-man foldable “Rotorcycle,” the “Hornet” helicopter powered by rotor-tip-mounted ramjet engines, and the first high-speed vertical take-off-and-landing tilt-wing troop transport. Hiller Aircraft Corp., started in 1949 as United Helicopters when he was just 18 years old, was soon producing the first battlefield evacuation helicopters for the French Indochinese War and the Korean Conflict in the 1950s.
In his second career beginning in 1966, after leaving Fairchild Hiller Corp. into which he had merged Hiller Aircraft, he created The Hiller Group, utilizing his leadership concepts in turning around failing companies in diverse fields, including Reed Tool Co., Bekins Corp., and the huge York International air conditioning manufacturer.
In 1998, he founded the Hiller Aviation Museum, which is dedicated to education and research.