Fred Weick Papers

Fred E. Weick (1899-1993) was an aeronautical engineer who had a profound effect on light aircraft development. While working for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) he developed the NACA low-drag cowling for radial engines (1928) and built a low landing speed aircraft as an independent project sparked by a series of light aircraft design seminars at NACA's Langley Research Center (1931). At the same time he coined the concept of "50 foot obstacle clearance" as a measure of aircraft takeoff performance, which has remained a standard measure ever since. In 1936 he joined Henry Berliner at the Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) to develop and market a commercial version of Weick's aircraft. Although the resulting Ercoupe faded in the general aviation slump following World War II, Weick moved to Texas A&M (1948-56) where he developed a series of agricultural aircraft which evolved into the Piper Pawnee series. He remained at Piper until he retired (1956-c.1970) and developed the Piper Cherokee with John Thorpe and Karl Bergey. After retirement, Weick remained active in aeronautics, assisting in design studies for Beech Aircraft as well as private projects in aircraft trim and control.