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The Early Years In The Helicopter History
History tells us that the first concept of man trying to defy gravity and actually fly was through a helicopter flight. Accounts date way back 400 BC in ancient China with a hand-spun toy made from a stick and feather that flew when rapidly spun between palms to generate enough lift and then released.
However, the very first, more realistic concept of a helicopter dates in the 15th century when Leonardo Da Vinci attempted to produce a working helicopter (gyroscope). This was not made into production since his sketch was noted to be way ahead of his time and the period had inadequate technology and understanding about the nature of lift and the availability of a machine that could create such massive lift.
Several other attempts had been made over the next centuries. All these had failed but had contributed little advancements on the development of the helicopter. The reason of failure? Same as that of Da Vinciís time. From the time of Da Vinci up to the end of the 19th century, there was no adequate machine that is powerful enough to generate power and create lift.
The breakthrough came when the internal combustion engine was invented that made full-size prototype production a possibility. But then, problems after problems occurred. With a little understanding on the concept of torque and balance, all the initial attempts failed. Models tend to flip over. Others cannot be controlled in mid-air. Many would not even get off from the ground.
The break came in 1907 when Paul Cornu, a French pioneer created a twin-rotor helicopter that lifted off the ground for few seconds. That event was followed by other successful tests but not until 1924 when another French by the name Etienne Oehmichen made a historic helicopter flight that lasted for 7 minutes and 40 seconds.
Others came to follow these two Frenchmen. Boris Yuriev and Geogrij de Bothezat (Russian), Ellehammer (Dutch), Louis Brennan (Briton), Pescara ( Argentina ), Etienne Oehmichen ( French), D'Ascanio (Italian), and Juan de la Cierva (Spanish) are among other pioneers who came up with their own version of helicopter. In 1936, with the German Focke-Wulf Fw 61 introduction, the concept of vertical flight became a reality. This was hailed as the very first practical helicopter that rose as high as 11,243 feet and as far as 143 miles.
The long dream of man to fly became a reality.
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