Pitcairn Field #2 In Pennsylvania To Be Designated a Historic Aerospace Site Written 22 May 2013

(AIAA Communciations 2008–2017)

Site of First Successful Rotorcraft Flight in the United States

May 22, 2013 – Reston, Va. – On June 1, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will designate Pitcairn Field #2, in Willow Grove, Pa., as a historic aerospace site. A historic marker will be unveiled at an 11:00 a.m. ceremony at the Tinius Olsen Testing Machine Company facility that now occupies the site.

On December 18, 1928, Arthur Rawson, a factory pilot for the Cierva Autogiro Company, and then Harold F. Pitcairn, flew a Cierva C.8W Autogiro from Building #3 at Pitcairn Field #2. The flights marked the first time a rotary-wing aircraft was successfully flown in the U.S. The success of the flight convinced Pitcairn, the founder and president of the Pitcairn Airplane Company and Pitcairn Aviation (which later became Eastern Airlines), to establish the Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company on the Willow Grove site. The company was later renamed the American Autogiro Company. The site is considered the cradle of American autogiro design.

In 1930, Pitcairn and his engineers won the Robert J. Collier Trophy for his autogiro designs. Pitcairn’s original designs, including the PCA-2, PAA-1, PA-18, PA-19, AC-35, and PA-36, developed the technology that made the invention of the helicopter possible.

AIAA established the Historic Aerospace Sites Program in January 2000 to promote the preservation and dissemination of information about significant accomplishments made by the aerospace profession. Among the other sites recognized by the AIAA History Technical Committee include Bell Aircraft’s Wheatfield, N.Y. plant; Pearson Field, Vancouver, Wash.; Bremen Airport, Bremen, Germany; Getafe Airfield, Getafe, Spain; the site of T.S.C. Lowe’s first balloon reconnaissance demonstration on the National Mall; the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory/CALSPAN Facility; the St. Petersburg Yacht Basin; the Honeysuckle Creek, Tidbinbilla, and Orroral Valley Tracking Stations in Australia; the Downey Industrial Site, Downey, Calif.; NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.; and Tranquility Base on the moon. For more information about AIAA’s Historic Aerospace Sites Program, contact Emily Springer at 703.264.7533 or emilys@aiaa.org.

AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. With more than 35,000 individual members worldwide, and100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit www.aiaa.org, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.