San Francisco Section of AIAA

AIAA SF, P.O. Box 1548, Mountain View, CA 94042-1548
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AIAA SF Dinner Meeting
Wednesday, August 15, 2012; 6:30pm-9:00pm
Michael's at Shoreline, Mountain View

Bell 429

Evolution of Rotorcraft Technology:
An Historical Perspective

Larry Rinek
Frost & Sullivan, Mountain View, CA


Rotorcraft (also known as rotary wing aircraft) have a unique position among heavier-than-air flying machines. They are easily the most maneuverable of all such aircraft. They are the only type that can routinely attain vertical flight and hover for extended periods. Accordingly, they have captured a number of specialized civilian and military missions. Among rotorcraft we have helicopters, autogiros, and tiltrotors. Helicopters mostly have single rotors, but can have coaxial twin rotors, tandem twin rotors, transverse twin rotors, and eggbeater-style meshing twin rotors. Autogiros have a single unpowered rotor, and tiltrotors (such as the V-22 Osprey) have transverse twin pivoting rotors.

This presentation will trace the origins of rotary wing flight, bring the story up to present, and look into the future. Inventors and experimenters over time have had to overcome major technical obstacles, including issues with propulsion power, weight management, and stability/control. Thus, rotorcraft lagged fixed-wing aircraft development by 30-40 years. A dedicated group of technical professionals and aero researchers for decades have sought to advance understanding of the unusual flight dynamics and aerodynamics of rotorcraft. They attempt to mathematically model nonlinear rotorcraft behaviors, and then use such models to: improve rotorcraft performance, predict the flight qualities of new rotorcraft, build better flight simulators and find paths to mitigate ongoing problems (such as high levels of acoustic noise and vibration). After reviewing some rotorcraft basics (controls, aerodynamics, flight dynamics), Larry Rinek will walk through key historical milestones of rotorcraft development, outlining successful solutions.

About the Speaker

Larry Rinek Larry Rinek is a published aviation historian, a guest lecturer in aero engineering for multiple universities, a former USAF officer, a senior technology consultant at Frost & Sullivan (in Mt. View, CA). Holding a BS in engineering plus an MBA in marketing, he is a veteran of the aerospace industry, and an active member of various aero/technical organizations. This includes: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International), American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS), Society for Aviation History (SAH), the Air Force Association (AFA), and the Aircraft Engine Historical Society (AEHS). Besides having flight training in fixed wing aircraft (Piper J-3C Cub), he is an avid pilot of radio-control (RC) model helicopters.

Dinner Meeting Reservations

It is preferred that you pay AIAA SF for your dinner reservation on-line. Click buttons below to use this method. [More on this] Cancel at least 24 hours before the event for a full refund by sending email to

Members (AIAA, SVSBR, SVSC) and their guests $25

Non-members $35

Students or Young Professionals* $15

K-12 Teachers $15

* Young Professionals are AIAA members under age 35.

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Meeting Details

Registration and no-host cocktails at 6:30 pm; buffet dinner at 7:00 pm; program starts at 7:30 pm; program ends at 9:30 pm. This meeting is open to the general public.

Dinner Meeting Location

Michael's at Shoreline
2960 N Shoreline Blvd
Mountain View, CA 94043

Map: Google

Point of Contact

For more information about this meeting, contact AIAA SF Chair Jim Keravala or Programs Director Nick Veronico.

Meeting Details

Registration and no-host cocktails at 6:30 pm; buffet dinner at 7:00 pm; program starts at 7:30 pm; program ends at 9:30 pm. This meeting is open to the general public.