AHS Mourns the Passing of Ray Prouty

Raymond W. Prouty
“Grand Elder of the Helicopter Industry”

Raymond W. Prouty, circa 2000, courtesy of AHS It is with great sadness that AHS International recognizes the passing of one of the rotorcraft community’s pioneers, Ray Prouty, who passed away on Friday, September 26. He was 88. In addition to his achievements in the technical field, Prouty was known for his generosity and commitment in sharing his knowledge with others, in particular students and new engineers. His lectures, articles, papers and books have helped educate generations of rotorcraft engineers.

Prouty held a BS and MS in aeronautical engineering from the University of Washington and an Engineer’s Degree from Caltech. He joined the fledgling American Helicopter Society (as we were then known) in 1952, when he began his career at Hughes Tool Company. He remained there until 1954, and then worked at Sikorsky Aircraft as a helicopter aerodynamicist, 1956 - 1958. He was a stability and control specialist at Bell Helicopter 1958 - 1960, then group engineer for helicopter aerodynamics at Lockheed Aircraft (1960 - 1973). From 1973 until his “retirement” in 1987, Prouty was Chief of Stability and Control, Hughes Helicopters / McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing in Mesa, Arizona).

He taught helicopter aerodynamics courses throughout the world after retirement. He also wrote Helicopter Performance, Stability and Control (1989), a college textbook, and Military Helicopter Design Technology (1998). Prouty was the author of the “Aerodynamics” column of Rotor & Wing magazine for more than 20 years, which he moved to Vertiflite in 2000. All of these columns can now be purchased in compendia, published by Eagle Eye Solutions (Volume III is forthcoming). Prouty published more than 80 articles in the AHS Vertiflite magazine since 1982, including his 75th and final column in the forthcoming November/December issue.

The publisher of the compendia, Shawn Coyle, wrote “Ray W. Prouty is a Grand Elder of the helicopter industry. . . . Prouty has helped to enlighten the helicopter world through his many years of columns in a variety of helicopter magazines, his books and teaching around the world. He has contributed greatly to the understanding of a very complex subject by his clear writing, excellent diagrams and dry humor.”

Prouty is the winner of the 2000 AHS Dr. Alexander Klemin Award, “the highest honor the AHS bestows on an individual for notable achievement in advancing the field of vertical flight aeronautics,” and was designated as an AHS Honorary Fellow in 1983. Prouty served in many roles in AHS, including on the Board of Directors from 1999 – 2003, and wrote numerous technical papers between 1967 and 2009. He was a regular lecturer at the AHS Annual Forum and elsewhere; his popular short course was entitled "Helicopter Aerodynamics Sans Equations."

In his personal life, he married Joyce Hoffman in 1958 and had two children, Jenny and Dave. Ray’s avid interest in local history, geology, and botany culminated in a book published last year called Westlake Village: A City in the Country. Joyce and Ray served as historians of their Westlake Village for more than 25 years.

To honor Ray Prouty and his commitment to educating the rotorcraft community, donations are sought to create the Raymond W. Prouty Scholarship, through the AHS Vertical Flight Foundation, to be awarded annually to students studying rotorcraft. Please consider donating to honor Ray Prouty's achievements. Donations can be made through www.vtol.org/vff, designated for the “Ray Prouty Scholarship Fund.”

Posted 10/06/2014.