Frank Piasecki was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to an immigrant Polish tailor. He worked for autogyro manufacturers while still attending Overbrook High School, then studied mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania before graduating with a bachelor's degree from New York University. In 1940, he formed PV Engineering Forum with former Pennsylvania classmate Howard Venzie. He built a single-person, single-rotor helicopter designated the PV-2 and flew it on April 11, 1943. This helicopter impressed the United States Navy sufficiently to win Piasecki a development contract. The name PV Engineering was changed to Piasecki Helicopter Corporation in 1946.. After a boardroom dispute, Piasecki left Piasecki Helicopter in 1955 and formed the Piasecki Aircraft Company. At Piasecki Aircraft, he participated in the development of the Piasecki 16H-1 the world's first shaft driven compound helicopter, the PA-59K/VZ-8P Flying Geep, the Piasecki PA-97 Helistat heavy vertical airlifter and the Piasecki X-49 experimental compound helicopter. After Piasecki had left the Piasecki Helicopter Corporation in 1955, it became the Vertol Aircraft Corporation. Boeing bought Vertol in 1960.