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

1938 - 2017

Robert (Bob) James King  had worked as an engineer in the helicopter industry —first at Sikorsky Aircraft and then at Boeing— for 42 years.  King was born on Aug. 30, 1938 in New Haven, Connecticut; he attended St. Augustine High School in San Diego, and then transferred to and graduated from North Haven High School in Connecticut.

He joined Sikorsky Aircraft in 1960 as an acoustics/dynamics engineer after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He worked on both external and interior noise aspects of Sikorsky aircraft products such as UH-60, S-76 and presidential helicopters. He also helped develop low-noise transmissions at Sikorsky.


King left to work at General Electric in Schenectady, New York, for two years—and earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1964 — before returning to Sikorsky. During his Sikorsky years, he received an MBA from the University of New Haven, Connecticut. By the time he left Sikorsky in 1978, King was considered one of America’s top helicopter noise experts. He was especially proud of the low interior noise designs of the presidential helicopters.


King was hired at Hughes Helicopters to develop the helicopter acoustics competency and also low-noise designs for the company’s commercial helicopters. He developed an acoustics group at Hughes and was responsible for low-noise helicopters such as the Hughes (now MD) 500E and 500N. He also developed "Fly Neighborly” noise-abatement procedures for the Hughes 300C and 500E commercial helicopters. King was the principal investigator of the Hughes/McDonnell Douglas National Rotorcraft Noise Reduction (NR2) program, a targeted helicopter noise-reduction program initiated by NASA early in the 1980s. He worked on several national noise committees with FAA and other industry members to help shape commercial helicopter noise certification regulations in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He also worked on proprietary programs during his time at Mesa.


King moved into full-time management of McDonnell Douglas/Boeing research and development programs (both internal and contracted R&D) in the late 1980s. He was the program manager for such programs as the Rotorcraft Industry Technology Association (RITA) tasks, NASA Langley/Ames Task Order contracts, SMART Rotor, Advanced Rotor Control System (ARCS), and Advanced Apache Rotor Program (AARP). He helped promote new rotor technologies such as low-noise rotors and active onblade rotor controls at Boeing.


Bob King retired from Boeing in 2002 but left behind a legacy of high-level competency in helicopter acoustics and low-noise rotor technologies at Boeing. King became a member of AHS in 1972, and became a member of the Gold Circle Club in 1997. During 2015 until 2017, King had been an active member of the Vertipedia team, participating in weekly telephone discussions to improve and expand the Society’s online database of VTOL aircraft.

AHS Update: Vertiflite September/October 2017