Dedication ceremonies for the marker took place on:
Frank Nicholas Piasecki
Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm
Location: on Callowhill Street (between 19th and 20th Streets), Philadelphia
(behind the Main Public Library located on Logan Square)
This is a "highway" (large) type marker. The historical marker is a registered trademark ® of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the marker is copyright protected. Used with permission.
The Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia wishes to thank all the participants and sponsors, especially the Piasecki Aircraft Corporation and Piasecki Family.
Ceremony in Philadelphia honors Aviation Pioneer Frank N. Piasecki
As 4 in the afternoon approached on Saturday April 17 in Philadelphia, a crowd began to gather on a blocked-off segment of Callowhill Street (between 19th and 20th Streets) to witness the dedication and unveiling of the citys newest historical marker, placed at the site of helicopter builder and aeronautical pioneer Frank N. Piaseckis first engineering office. The ceremonies started on schedule with a presentation of colors by a Marine Corps honor guard accompanied by members of Polish Veterans Post 12. Then former Philadelphia City Councilman Joseph Zazyczny greeted the assembly (of over 250 persons) in the name of the Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia, an affiliate organization of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC). A moment of silence was observed to remember the victims of the airplane crash in which president Kaczynski and many prominent members of the Polish government died while on their way to Katyn. He was followed by Fred Piasecki, chairman of the board of Piasecki Aircraft who stood in for his brother John, the companys president and CEO who was not able to attend, being in London while on a business trip when flights were canceled due to the volcano erupting in Iceland.
There were topical speeches by Senator Arlen Specter, a personal friend of Frank Piasecki; Lt. Gen. Michael Hough USMC; Flora Becker from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC); and Phil Dunford, VP and General Manager of the Boeing Company. Peter J. Obst, who filed the application for the marker back in 2008 and then chaired the committee organizing the event, filled in for the absent City of Philadelphia representative. He read the proclamation issued by Mayor Michael A. Nutter which, after praising Mr. Piasecki for his activities that created a helicopter industry in the Philadelphia area, declared that this day was to be celebrated as Frank N. Piasecki Day in the city. While cameras from three TV stations (alerted by publicity chairman Walter Wojcik) took in the scene, Mrs. Vivian Piasecki, widow of the great engineer, started to unveil the sign. She pulled a cord attached to a cover held in place by velcro fastenings, it fell away and revealed the following words in yellow-gold letters on a blue background:
FRANK N. PIASECKI (1919-2008)
Aviation pioneer Piasecki developed and flew the 2nd helicopter in the US and the worlds 1st tandem rotor helicopter, initiating the 1st practical use of rotor-craft in the 1940s. His original company, started here, now a division of Boeing, is a world leader in helicopter production. In 1956, he founded Piasecki Aircraft Corp., continuing development of innovative advanced rotorcraft. Awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1986.
The historical marker is registered under a trademark © of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and is copyright protected. Photographs accompanying this article are used with permission. On dedication the marker became the property of the Commonwealth of the PHMC which is now responsible for its maintenance.
In conclusion there followed an eight-minute video presentation on a truck-sized electronic screen parked at the end of the street. It was an excerpt from "An Innovators Story" a film about the life and work of Frank Piasecki. When this concluded the crowd dispersed as the weather had turned rather cold and cloudy. Those who were to attend the post-dedication banquet boarded tourist trolleys which whisked them over to the Stotesbury Mansion, headquarters of the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Society, on Walnut Street.
At the banquet Deborah M. Majka, president of the ACPC introduced the important guests and speakers. Teresa N. Wojcik, president of the Polish Heritage Society, welcomed the participants. Fr. Leonard Lewandowski from St. Josaphats parish gave the invocation.
After a lovely dinner of shrimp or beef, under antique French chandeliers, several speakers took the podium to pay tribute to the accomplishments and legacy of Frank Piasecki. These were: Lt. Col. Paul Riegert USMC who praised Piaseckis advanced helicopter designs in military application; Mike Walsh from the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Col. Andrzej Kopacki, Assistant Military Attache at the Polish Embassy; Prof. Marek Konarzewski, Minister Counselor for Science and Technology at the Polish Embassy, and Janusz Zastocki, Honorary President of Polonia Technica, the Polish engineers association in the United States. Prof. Konarzewskis reference to the indomitable Polish spirit, evident both in cases of disaster, such as the recent airplane crash, and in the development of new inventions to benefit mankind, drew spontaneous applause from listeners. In conclusion Fred Piasecki thanked the guests for their participation and members of the audience gradually started for home.
As they left, guests were able to take home an event journal produced by Peter Obst which included a detailed biography of Frank N. Piasecki and many interesting photographs. So ended a very memorable banquet, that capped the ceremonies devoted to honoring the aviation pioneer. This marker is only the twelfth of those commemorating Polish-American contributions to the history of the Keystone State, interspersed among the two-thousand-plus that have been placed to-date along the roadways. Many more markers could still be created to recognize the impact that Polish immigrants and their children have had on this major industrial state. Those who are interested in the Pennsylvania Marker Program should look at the PHMC website:http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pennsylvania_historical_marker_program/
The Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia would like to express its gratitude to all persons who participated in organizing the event or purchased ads in the program, the income from which will be distributed to deserving students of Polish background as part of the Frank N. Piasecki Scholarship. We would also like to convey our special appreciation to the Piasecki Family, and to Piasecki Aircraft Corporation, especially John Piasecki, President and CEO, for being the main sponsor of the marker and the street ceremony for which he provided not only funds but his personal time and attention. In addition we acknowledge Dr. Janusz Romanski, VP of Polonia Technica, for his assistance in publicizing the event and in fundraising for the Piasecki Scholarship Fund.Information about the career and life of Frank N. Piasecki
Tandem rotor helicopter built by Frank N. Piasecki in the 1950s, popularly known as the "Flying Banana." This example is at the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum in Oshkosh, WI (outdoor display).