Back Piasecki "Heli-Stat"
1985

Piasecki

The Piasecki Heli-Stat project began in the mid 1970s with a view to combining the lift capability of a lighter-than-air vehicle with the pre-cise manoeuvrability of the helicop-ter, and following support from the US Forestry Service and the US Navy, construction of a prototype Heli-Stat began at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1979. The hybrid aircraft uses an airship-based envelope, attached via a skeletal structure to the front fuselage portions of four Sikorsky SH-34J helicopters, each powered by a standard Wright radial engine driving the conventional main rotor system and mounted at the four corners of the aircraft. The tail rotors are replaced by large diameter propellers to provide propulsion and full controllability.

At the beginning of 1984 it was expected that the Heli-Stat would fly in 1985, following a redesign of the structure which had failed under load tests. The following data is provisional

G.Apostolo "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters", 1984

Technical data for Piasecki "Heli-Stat"

Engine: 4 x Wright R-1820-84A rated 1525shp each, overall width: 60.05m, overall length: 74.07m, empty weight: 24895kg, gross weight: 50469kg, maximum speed: 132km/h, service ceiling: 3810m, range: 3307km, range with maximum payload: 80km

Comments 
Chris Burns, chris=hcrepairservice.co.uk, 31.12.2013

I will never understand how this God awful contraption ever made it past the drawing boards. Even an uneducated child could have pointed out the deeply flawed frames weaknesses. I could build better out of mecano. Such a dreadful waste of the poor pilots life who died. Shameful engineering. Only in America.

ben dasaro, bendasaro=gmail.com, 31.07.2012

If anyone out there is interested, I have an idea based on this concept, but with 2012 tech, in a different configuration, to fight forest fires!

peter, c-treon=hotmail.com, 10.10.2011

Hi, i saw Mr Piasecki on a Granada news documentary in the 70's as a kid.I was highly stirred.His concepts looked like a IFO and had scope.My Grand dad said America would close the idea down dead in the water somehow.

polo, poloalobabab=gmail.com, 12.06.2011

The idea of controlling the aircraft like a helicopter didn't pan out too well. 1 1/2 million cubic feet of helium might be light than air, but it still is a lot of mass. The thing maneuvered like a plate of jello.

MATTHEW GRAEBER, matthewgraeber=ao.com, 19.03.2011

I worked for Mr. Piasecki in the late seventies and early eighties. At the time, the Helistat was in the early drawing stages and Mr.Piasecki was looking for a suitable gas bag for the machine. He was a big man with a quick bright mindnd and had a wonderfully bright secretary maned Rose.
I was not a draftsmn or an aircraft engineeer but, a commercial artist and sign painter who dreww many sketches of the machine as it blossomed in Mr.Piasecki's mind.

hou, houxiaohui=yahoo.com, 08.06.2010

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JS, 13.05.2010

After an X-plane crashes, its easy to say it was doomed from the beginning. Many of Pi's inventions were junkyard specials but many of them worked. His first helicopter is in the Smithsonian with a Studebaker clutch and an outboard motor gearbox spinning the tailrotor.
Truth is that resonance will bring down any helicopter. The wheels shook at 4 cycles per second. The main rotors spun at 241rpm for a perfect match. The Helistat would have shaken apart even if it were milled from a solid billet of titanium. The problem was that no one thought to test the resonant qualities of the wheelsets. They could have been dampened.
The idea of controlling the aircraft like a helicopter didn't pan out too well. 1 1/2 million cubic feet of helium might be light than air, but it still is a lot of mass. The thing maneuvered like a plate of jello.

A. Small, spaghettinugget=gmail.com, 27.02.2009

Found the video of the Heli-Stat disaster from the History Channel.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2668113119001888697

mike, air1mjo=ups.com, 15.11.2008

I worked on this project for a year. My first aviation job. It seemed like good concept but in my opinion it was put together with parts from a junk yard. That may sound cruel but the only thing impressive was the size. I am sorry someone had to die in the process

Antipentium, rtodd=antipentium.com, 08.09.2008

I worked on this in 83/84. I was there when it went down.
What we were told was that they were moving down the taxiway and one of the wheels started to caster( like on a shopping cart) in an attempt to stop the vibration the Pilot in charge decided to lift off. The problem was that a few of the main support tubes had started to vibrate so bad that they harmonic balance and got worse till something broke. I rememver seeing on the video it looked like one cross beam was moving at least 6 ft each way.
Shame, it was such a cool idea

Richard Burke, richardjdburke=yahoo.com, 29.07.2008

I spent 7 years on this project starting first at the MAIN engineering facility drafting this monsteralong with 15 other people on island avenue in philadelphia and later moved to lakehurast during the structural pluck tests. I was there up until the ground manuvering tests where being performed . If you have any questions I can answer them I was over every single part of the airframe / Sh34J's ( Modified) and the aerostat (ZPG2 evvelope) as an example this was a roll out for a photo op dog and pony show note the lack of inverted v fins on the aerostat and the laclk of pusher props on the helos also us forrest service was not painetd on the envelpope yet . I am actually in this photo aft center stern of ship next to the guy with the bike Joe o'Halleren

Mike C., 01.07.2008

I worked in the engineering department at Hanger 6 Lakehurst on this project (June 1981 - October 1981). I was a draftsman and my boss Pete Grant brought out that the tolerances did not have any extra margian if another failed. The Philadelphia crew basically told him to it wasn't his job to be looking at tolerances. I remember when we had a company meeting and they told us that it was highly probable that one of us will die because that is what happens historically with experimental aircraft. The Philadelphia crew manufactured the parts and we were told to make them work. If a length of pipe was too short they would splice it. They started to utilize the engineering department for labor. I hate to say it but most of us knew it in 1981 that this was a disaster in the making. Everything was about just getting it in the air so that they could get the funds for the second model.

T.W. Helwig, erwinrommel=msn.com, 20.01.2008

I worked on this project and it was truly a combination of four SH-34 helicopters and a ZP-3 patrol blimp. It had B-52 landing gear and P-51 reduction gear boxes driving H-3 tail rotors as pusher props.

ShaunE130, 15.01.2008

The History Channel show "SHOCKWAVE" had a segment on the Heli-Stat. It showed it moving around on the ground and the structure failed causing one the helicopters to break free, resulting in a crash that killed one of the four pilots and destroyed the Heli-Stat.

BeachComer, no_email, 20.07.2007

Not a Zeppelin (or dirigible), no rigid frame. The envelope is internally supported by air pressure, but isn't exactly a blimp, either. I also think it isn't exactly a rotorcraft, but it's USE of rotorcraft as a component makes it certainly of interest to rotorcraft fans.

"SUNRISE", DEBNTRAV=WEBTV.NET, 25.11.2006

I DO NOT THINK THIS COUNTS AS A ROTORCRAFT. IT COUNTS AS A ZEPLIN, JUDGING BY THE PHOTO... BUT THAT IS JUST MY POINT OF VIEW.

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