In 1949, the Hiller UH-12 (or Model 360 by United Helicopters) became the first helicopter to make a transcontinental flight from California to New York. When Hiller upgraded the engine and the rotor blades, the company designated the new model as the UH-12A. It was the UH-12A that would be adopted by both the French and United States militaries, as well as being used by civil commercial operators in several countries.
Hiller Aircraft Company was founded in 1942 as Hiller Industries by Stanley Hiller to develop helicopters.
Stanley Hiller, then seventeen, established the first helicopter factory on the West Coast of the United States, located in Berkeley, California, in 1942, under the name “Hiller Industries,” to develop his design for the coaxial-rotor XH-44 “Hiller-Copter” for the U.S. Army. The XH-44 became operational in 1944.
In collaboration with Henry J. Kaiser, it became United Helicopters in 1945. In the postwar years, United Helicopter produced a number of innovative helicopter designs for military and civilian purposes, including coaxial-rotor and tailless designs, as well as more conventional models. In January, 1949, a Hiller 360 became the first civilian helicopter to cross the United States.
Besides helicopters, in the year after World War II, Stanley Hiller researched a two-man rocket-jet aircraft design that took off and landed vertically, called the VJ-100, in which he tried unsuccessfully to interest the U.S. military.
The company was renamed Hiller Helicopters in 1948. It was involved in the development of a number of prototype helicopters. From the early 1960s to 1969, its Palo Alto plant served as a CIA cover for the production of the CORONA reconnaissance satellites.
Hiller was purchased by Fairchild Aircraft in 1964.