Richard A. Balzer, Sr.
United States of America
Richard A. Balzer, Sr., of Malvern, Pennsylvania graduated from Springfield College (in Massachusetts) with a degree in physical education. As a major in the Marine Corps he flew helicopters and the renowned "SPAD" (AD) after being released from active duty, he flew for New York Airways flying the Piasecki H-21 and V-107.
He joined Boeing in 1963. There he was the project and demo pilot for the BO-105 and the Model 234. In 1981 he became the Boeing project pilot for the V-22 tiltrotor logging more than 170 flight test hours. In 1992 Balzer began working with Piasecki Aircraft Corp. on the company's piloted simulation of the Vectored Thrust Combat Agility Demonstrator (VTCAD). The project explored the compounding of the AH-64A and the AH-1W with the Piasecki Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP). Balzer then worked on the handling qualities of the Piasecki 16H7, a compound helicopter design under Navy contract for the Medium Lift Replacement.
A fellow test pilot and friend, Frank Duke, commented, "It was my pleasure to fly with him. He was an excellent pilot and a role model for younger pilots."
Richard died in January 1995 in a hunting accident. By the end of his life, he had logged more than 15,000 flight-test hours.
AHS Update: Vertiflite March/April 1995