Rens H. Swan, 90, of Springfield, Delaware County, a Boeing Vertol mechanical engineer who worked on the first developmental team for the Chinook helicopter, died Friday, Aug. 25, of a brain aneurysm at Penn Hospice Care at Rittenhouse in Philadelphia.
Rens H. Swan, a Navy electronic technician, served in World War II.
Mr. Swan was a veteran of World War II, in which he served as a Navy electronics technician. After being honorably discharged, he began his engineering career with the Piasecki Helicopter Corp. in Essington, and then worked for its successor, Vertol Aircraft Corp., which became Boeing Vertol and finally the Boeing Co. in Ridley Township, Delaware County.
His career spanned 41 years, ending with his retirement in 1991.
He was Boeing’s manager of weight technology – the technical discipline that balances the heft and moment of every component of a new product to ensure its safe, efficient performance. In that role, he was involved in virtually every aircraft project, trade study and major proposal effort during his tenure there. He was on the first developmental crew for the Chinook helicopter, according to a Boeing rotorcraft history.
The first helicopters were built by Piasecki Aircraft for the Navy, Air Force and Army. Though known as workhorses, the helicopters were hobbled by the spotty performance of their piston engines. In 1956, when Piasecki Aircraft became Vertol, work began in…