Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America

1917 - 2007

Peter Wright 90, founder and former Chairman of Keystone Helicopter and a highly decorated member of General Claire Chenault’s famed Flying Tigers of World War II fame, passed away on June 1, 2007. During World War II, he served as a naval aviator, flying as a dive-bomber pilot on the aircraft carriers Ranger,Wasp and Yorktown. He resigned in 1941 to join the Flying Tigers, piloting P-40s in combat in Southeast Asia until the unit was disbanded in 1942.

Following the war, he returned to the U.S. to fly Sikorsky VS-44 flying boats, Martin PBM Mariner flying boats and Douglas C-54 transports. At General Motors, he served as a FM Wildcat Navy fighter test pilot. A major figure in the development of the commercial helicopter industry in the United States, he founded Keystone Helicopter in 1953 in Philadelphia. Keystone, during its 54-year history, became one of the largest rotorcraft technical service centers in the United States and is today owned by Sikorsky Aircraft.

Peter joined AHS International in 1951; in 1989, he was named an AHS Fellow in recognition of his many contributions to the helicopter industry. He also helped create the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1996. A member and former chairman of Helicopter Association International (HAI), he received its Lawrence D. Bell Memorial Award in 1987.

The National Aeronautics Association later recognized him with its Elder Statesman of Aviation Award. In 1996, the U.S. government belatedly awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for participating in aerial flight from December 7, 1941 to July 18, 1942, with the American Volunteer Group Chinese Air Force, the Flying Tigers.

AHS Update: Vertiflite Fall 2007