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


Russell James Cline was born on Oct. 8, 1920, in Keedysville, Maryland.  He worked as a mechanical engineer for 66 years, until age 94.

Cline was a veteran of World War II, having served two years in the US Navy, stationed in the Pacific. He received a BS in aeronautical engineering from Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in 1949. He started his career at Piasecki Helicopter Company in Morton, Pennsylvania, in 1949, where he was hired by Frank Piasecki. He continued as the company became Vertol and then Boeing Rotorcraft Division in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, totaling 43 years as the lead structural design engineer. After retirement from Boeing, he worked for Piasecki Aircraft Corporation in Essington, Pennsylvania, for 23 years as a structural design engineer lead.

Over his professional career, Cline worked on a number of helicopters, including the Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight and the CH-47 Chinook. As the chief of structures, Cline was recognized for the design of the Boeing 360 helicopter (and the proposed CH-46X model), as part of the team who received the Society’s Howard Hughes Award in 1988.

Working for Piasecki Aircraft, Cline was fundamental in the modification of the Sikorsky YSH-60F Seahawk into the Piasecki X-49A SpeedHawk; he also designed and conducted the modal test for SpeedHawk, which flew for the first time in 2007. Many young engineers learned from his design talent and experience at Piasecki.

Cline joined VFS in 1978 and was a member of the VFS Gold Circle Club. He was the Boeing Helicopters Engineer of the Year in 1986, and Boeing Special Incentives Awards in 1980 and 1984; over the years, Cline also received a number of certificates of appreciation from Piasecki Aircraft Corporation.

He was a charter member of American Helicopter Museum & Education Center in West Chester, Pennsylvania; contributions in his memory may be made to the museum.

Russell James Cline,passed away on Feb. 20. at age 98, a resident of Wallingford, Pennsylvania.

Vertical Flight Society: Vertiflite May/June 2019