Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America
Joseph Mashman was a test pilot and retired Bell Helicopter executive who helped popularize the helicopter. "Mr. Helicopter," as he was known, had a talent for demonstrating helicopter capabilities. During the 1948 Senate campaign, he piloted Lyndon B. Johnson 7,000 miles across Texas on a campaign tour as he explains in his book, "To Fly Like a Bird,".
Born in Chicago to parents who emigrated from Russia and Romania, he studied engineering at the Armour Institute of Technology, using his lunch money to take flying lessons. He joined Bell in 1943 as an engineer test pilot, where he participated in flight tests leading to the certification of the world's first civilian helicopter. "Man wants to fly like a bird, not like a bat out of hell," Mashman recalled Bell founder Lawrence Bell saying.
During his long career, he flew helicopters on five continents in the course of demonstrating flight characteristics of the aircraft. On one early demonstration in South America, Mashman became the first person to fly a helicopter over the Andes. Mashman was a former president of the American Helicopter Society, a founding member of the Twirly Birds and a founding member and past president of the Helicopter Club of America. He held numerous awards including an Honorary Fellowship of the American Helicopter Society and the Peruvian Gold Award of Valor. Mr. Mashman died of a heart attack August 13, 1994, at his home in Dallas at age 78.
AHS Update: Vertiflite July/August 1994