Bell Powerplant engineer Erasmo Piñero can’t hide his excitement when he recalls the early history of Bell: “The Bell team involved in early helicopter design, manufacture and flight testing were really beginning to fall in love with the technology,” he says with a smile on his face. “Even with a new wave of engineers coming to work for Bell, this passion continues. The fact that you can get into a machine, beat the air to submission so to speak, and basically fly off the ground with ease. It is something incredible. Today helicopters are indispensable vehicles that have saved thousands of lives.”
Erasmo left Cuba at age 15 to escape persecution. During his childhood, he would hear people refer to the American naval aviators as air pirates. He wanted nothing more in his life than to be one of those air pirates. Eventually he would gain his freedom and come to the United States where he went to college and became an aeronautical engineer. In 1984, shortly after college he joined the U.S. Navy, becoming a naval aviator doing what he loved; and in the process, repaying the United States for his freedom, which he considers his most valuable possession. After he left military service, the experienced aviator and veteran held positions throughout the aviation industry before landing his dream job at Bell, supporting helicopter and tilt-rotor flight testing.
Erasmo Piñero after a flight on a F-18D Hornet while on duty in the U.S. Navy
“I always wanted to be a helicopter guy. My favorite toy when I was a child was one of those helicopters that flies up when you pull a string. As a kid, I had never wanted any other toy.” Today Erasmo monitors flight tests on real and powerful machines, not toys, for one of Bell’s most critical projects: The Bell V-280 Valor. He works closely with test pilots and very talented flight test engineers. The Bell V-280 has already surpassed 160 flight hours and many other milestones as of 2020.
Tilt-rotor (Bell V-22) flight testing at Bell Flight Research Center (c. 2013)
“Bell is a true engineering company because they throw you right into the fray,” says Erasmo. “They give you a problem, and you just have to figure it out. Bell managers expect you to do the assigned job, whether you are prepared for it or not; but there are always great mentors to help you if needed. You’re not just working through paperwork all day. You are actually doing tests, inventing technology and creating better ways to do vertical flight. It is all up to you how far you want to go.”
Erasmo in front of a visiting Sacramento PD Bell 505 and Bell Headquarters
Through a combination of hard work and passion for vertical lift, Erasmo demonstrates a true love for Bell and its mission.
Thinking above and beyond is what we do. For more than 80 years, we’ve been reimagining the experience of flight – and where it can take us.
We are pioneers. We were the first to break the sound barrier and to certify a commercial helicopter. We were a part of NASA’s first lunar mission and brought advanced tiltrotor systems to market. Today, we’re defining the future of on-demand mobility.
Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas – as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., – we have strategic locations around the globe. And with nearly one quarter of our workforce having served, helping our military achieve their missions is a passion of ours.
Above all, our breakthrough innovations deliver exceptional experiences to our customers. Efficiently. Reliably. And always, with safety at the forefront.
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