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

1926 - 2017

Rens H. Swan of Springfield, Pennsylvania, passed away on August 25, 2017, at the age of 90. Swan was one of the fathers of the CH-47 Chinook.

Swan was born Oct. 30, 1926 in nearby Bristol, Pennsylvania. He joined the US Navy and served as an electronics technician in World War II, before returning to graduate from Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University) in Philadelphia, with a BS in mechanical engineering. He began his professional career at Piasecki Helicopter Corp. in 1950 and continued working for the company as it became Vertol and Boeing, retiring in 1991.

Swan worked on most of the production tandem rotor helicopters at the company. He was on the original developmental team for the Model 107 and what became the CH-47 Chinook — according to Boeing, that team was led by Tom Peppler, Vertol’s chief design engineer; Dick Degan, project engineer; Tom Griffith, design engineer; Joe Mallen, aerodynamics specialist; Ken Grina, structures; and Swan, the weights engineer.

During his career, Swan was the manager of weight technology at Boeing and was involved in virtually every aircraft project, trade study and major proposal effort during his 41 years at Piasecki/Vertol/Boeing.


After retirement, from 1991 to 2013, Swan continued to make a contribution as a consultant at Piasecki Aircraft Corp. According to the company, Swan continued to educate the next generation of young engineers at PiAC.


Swan joined AHS in 1955 and was still a current member; he was an AHS Gold Circle member and Emeritus member, as well as a member of the Society of Allied Weight Engineers and the Boeing Lifetime Management Committee. Swan was also an active member of the Covenant United Methodist Church in Springfield, Pennsylvania.

AHS Update: Vertiflite November/December 2017