If you lived in Springfield during 1940s, 50s and 60s, you probably remember hearing the sounds of helicopters flying around overhead.
The Piasecki Helicopter Corporation, a major designer and manufacturer of helicopters, once called Springfield home. During that time, many helicopters were built to be used for several United States war campaigns and other purposes.
The company was founded in 1940 in Philadelphia by Frank Piasecki as the P-V Engineering Forum, then later, in 1946, it became Piasecki Helicopter Corporation. The PV-2, designed by Piasecki, was the second helicopter to fly in the U.S.
Piasecki himself was the pilot during that historical flight.
Piasecki moved his base of operations from Philadelphia to a brand new plant in Springfield in May 1947. The 55-acre site was located along Woodland Avenue (Route 420) and employed more than a 1,000 people. It cost more than $500,000 to build the facility.
In 1956, the company became the Vertol Aircraft Corporation. During that time, more than 5,000 people were employed at the company. Vertol eventually merged with Boeing in 1960 and became Boeing Vertol. Boeing later moved the company, now known as the Boeing Helicopter Division, out of Springfield.
Today the site is B.J’s Wholesale Club. You can still see one of the towers at the top of the building as a little reminder of the important role Springfield played in this country’s aviation history.