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View Full Version : Who invented the helicopter, really?



Nick_Toznost
08-13-2005, 04:36 AM
Leonardo da vinci?, Igor Sikorsky? when? first flight?. A helicopter appears in the 1930s film The 39 Steps, were they used in WW2?
Information seems to be thin on the ground.

"Who invented the aeroplane?"

(Everyone) "The Wright Brothers"

"Who invented the helicopter?"

"er....can I phone a friend?"

Any ideas?

arcadeace
08-13-2005, 04:46 AM
My skill with Google tells me this guy deserves the credit. On November 13, 1907, the French pioneer Paul Cornu lifted a twin- rotored helicopter into the air entirely without assistance from the ground for a few seconds.

NonWonderDog
08-13-2005, 04:51 AM
The Wright brothers didn't invent much of anything, though, did they? They were just the first to build an airplane that actually worked and was somewhat controllable. They might have been the first to use wing warping or something, though.

Gibbage1
08-13-2005, 04:51 AM
Sikorsky did not invent the helicopter, but made it pratical. Most early helicopters were not controlable and hardly got into the air. Igor Sikorsky is considerd the fauther of Helicopters because he not only made it fly, but made it fly well and was able to control it! Just like Dr Goddard is the fauther of rockets. He did not invent it, but made it pratical.

US and Germany were I think the only 2 countries to use choppers in WWII. Not in numbers and not in combat, but they were used. More for scouts. The US Navy addopted the chopper late for rescue.

As for who was first, it depends on what you qualify? Powered or controled?

arcadeace
08-13-2005, 04:54 AM
England used a gyro I think spying on German radar installations, and it really looked cool.

Gibbage1
08-13-2005, 05:00 AM
Autogyro's and helicopters are two differant beast's. Autogyro's were perfected before the war. Germany even demonstrated one at the Olympics. They even turned a Jeep into an autogyro!!!

http://oldwolf.diy.myrice.com/jeep/jeep5.files/image010.jpg

Again, used more as scouts. I think a Brit autogyro shot down a Bf-109 during BoB? May be one of those fly-boy urban legend's http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Pirschjaeger
08-13-2005, 05:06 AM
Originally posted by NonWonderDog:
The Wright brothers didn't invent much of anything, though, did they? They were just the first to build an airplane that actually worked and was somewhat controllable. They might have been the first to use wing warping or something, though.

The Wright Brother are famed for having the first powered flight. I remember reading somewhere that at the time of their first flight it had already been done by a French man not long before. I think there was kind of a "flight race" going on and there were actually many successful flights made around the same time. The Wright brothers simply had the best marketing, not the best product.

Sorry I can't give the details. It wasn't that interesting to me. Also, the fact that the human race only figured out how to fly only about a century ago is nothing to be proud of.

We were dealing with individual atoms before this. Much more complicated technology.

Fritz

Pirschjaeger
08-13-2005, 05:10 AM
Ok, took less than a minute to find this info in Google. Once again, it was marketing and not official.

http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/planetruth.html

Fritz

Pirschjaeger
08-13-2005, 05:16 AM
Russian born Igor Sikorsky flew his VS-300 helicopter in Stratford Connecticut. The VS-300 was not the first helicopter to fly as German Professor Henrich Foch had also desinged one. In addition many people were working on autogiros (planes that had propellors for forward movment and blades for lift) The VS300 however, was the first modern helicopter to include a main rotor and small tail rotor.

Fritz

Pirschjaeger
08-13-2005, 05:22 AM
Early Helicopter Technology

Helicopter flight was probably the first type of flight envisioned by man. The idea dates back to ancient China, where children played with homemade tops of slightly twisted feathers attached to the end of a stick. They would rapidly spin the stick between their hands to generate lift and then release the top into free flight.

In the western world, the ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, and inventor, Archimedes, who lived and worked in the second century B.C.E. perfected the principle of the rotating screw for use as a water pump. When the screw was rotated inside a cylinder, the screw moved the water in front of it. At the same time, the water resisted and pushed back. This resistance also applied to the movement of screws through airâ€"ťa type of fluid.

The 15th century Italian Leonardo da Vinci has often been cited as the first person who conceived of a helicopter capable of lifting a person and then experimented with models of his designs. His sketch of the "aerial-screw" or "air gyroscope" showed a device with a helical rotor. The helical surface on his device resembled a helicopter and was made from iron wire and covered with linen surfaces made "airtight with starch."

Leonardo planned to use muscle power to revolve the rotor, although such power would never have been sufficient to operate a helicopter successfully. His notes implied that his models flew, but from his sketch, there was no way to deal with the torque created by the propeller. Although he had undoubtedly identified the concept of a rotary-wing aircraft, the technology needed to create a helicopter had not yet been produced. His drawings date to 1483, but they were first published nearly three centuries later.

A large number of fanciful inventions surfaced between the time of Leonardo and the 20th century. These helped advance the knowledge of vertical flight, but they all lacked sufficient power to achieve flight and were too bulky and heavy. Serious efforts to create a real helicopter did not occur until the early years of the 20th century.

In 1754, Mikhail Lomonosov, the "Father of Russian Science," suggested that a coaxial rotor machine could be used to lift meteorological instruments. He developed a small coaxial rotor modeled after the Chinese top, but powered by a wound-up spring that he demonstrated to the Russian Academy of Sciences in July 1754. The device may have climbed and flown freely or it may have been suspended from a string.

J.P. Paucton seems to have been the first European to propose the helicopter as a man-carrying vehicle. In his Theorie de la vis d'Archimedes, he described a man-powered machine called a Pterophere with two airscrewsâ€"ťone to support the machine in flight and the second to provide forward propulsion.

In 1783, the French naturalist Launoy, with the assistance of his mechanic Bienvenu, used a version of the Chinese top in a model consisting of two sets of rotors made of turkey feathers that rotated in opposite directions. This "counter-rotation" solved the problem of torque since the forces created by each rotor cancelled each other out. They demonstrated the model, which resembled Lomonosov's model in principle, in 1784 before the French Academy of Sciences and succeeded in achieving free flight.

George Cayley, who, as a young boy, had been fascinated by the Chinese top, built his earliest vertical-flight model, a twin-rotor helicopter model in 1792 and described it in On Aerial Navigation in 1796. It was very similar to Launoy and Beinvenu's model. By the end of the 18th century, he had constructed several successful vertical-flight models with rotors made of sheets of tin and driven by wound-up clock springs. In a scientific paper published in 1843, Cayley described a relatively large vertical flight aircraft design that he called an Aerial Carriage. However, his device remained only an idea because the only engines available at the time were steam engines, which were much too heavy for successful flight.

The lack of a suitable engine stifled aeronautical progress, but the use of miniature lightweight steam engines met with limited success. In 1842, the Englishman W.H. Phillips constructed a steam-driven vertical flight machine that ejected steam generated by a miniature boiler out of its blade tips. Although impractical to build at full-scale, Phillips' machine marked the first time that a model helicopter had flown powered by an engine rather than by stored energy devices such as wound-up springs. He exhibited his model at the Crystal Palace in London in 1868.

Another idea at this time, documented by Octave Chanute in Progress in Flying Machines, was a model built by Cossus of France in 1845. It had three rotating aerial screws that were moved by steam power. Chanute also mentioned a device by a Mr. Bright that consisted of axles that were suspended beneath a balloon and rotated in opposite directions.

A U.S. Confederate soldier, William Powers, designed an attack helicopter in 1862 that made use of Archimedes' screws powered by a steam engine that was to propel it vertically and forward. He intended to use it to break the Union's siege of the southern ports. He constructed a non-flying model but did not construct a full-size craft.

In France, an association was set up to assemble the many helicopter models and designs that had proliferated during the 1860s. In 1863, the Vicomte Gustave Ponton d'Amecourt built a model helicopter with counter-rotating propellers and a steam engine. He patented it in France and Great Britain and exhibited it at the 1868 London Aeronautical Exposition. This machine failed, but another model using spring propulsion had better luck. He called his machines "helicopteres," which was derived from the Greek adjective "elikoeioas," meaning spiral or winding and the noun "pteron," meaning feather or wing.

In 1870, Alphonse Penaud constructed several model helicoptére that he fashioned after the Chinese top. They had two superimposed screws rotating in opposite directions and set in motion by the force of twisted rubber bands. Some of his models rose to more than 50 feet (15 meters). In 1871, Pomes and De la Pauze designed an apparatus that had a rotor powered by gunpowder, but it was never built.

In 1877, Emmanuel Dieuaide, a former secretary of the French Aeronautical Society, designed a helicopter with counter-rotating rotors. The engine boiler was on the ground and connected to the machine by a flexible tube. Also that year, Melikoff designed and patented a helicopter with a conical-shaped rotor that doubled as a parachute for descent.

In 1878, Castel, a Frenchman, designed and built a helicopter driven by compressed air with eight rotors on two counter-rotating shafts. This model did not work, but a smaller one built by Dandrieux between 1878 and 1879 and driven by elastic bands did.

Also in 1878, Enrico Forlanini, an Italian civil engineer, built another type of flying steam-driven helicopter model powered by a 7.7-pound (3.5-kilogram) engine. This model had two counter-rotating rotors and rose more than 40 feet (12 meters), flying for as much as 20 seconds.

In the 1880s, Thomas Alva Edison experimented with small helicopter models in the United States. He tested several rotor configurations driven by a gun cotton engine, an early form of internal combustion engine. However, a series of explosions that blew up part of his laboratory deterred him. Later, Edison used an electric motor for power, and he was one of the first to realize from his experiments that a large-diameter rotor with low blade area was needed to give good hovering efficiency. Edison's scientific approach to the problems of vertical flight proved that both high aerodynamic efficiency of the rotor and high power from an engine were required for successful vertical flight.

At the end of the nineteenth century, inventors had not solved the inherent aerodynamic and mechanical complexities of building a vertical flight aircraft. The hundreds of failed helicopter inventions had either inadequate power or control or experienced excessive vibration. Some of the better-designed early helicopters managed to hop briefly into the air, but they did not attain sustained flight with control. Steam engines were just too heavy for a full-scale helicopter. Not until the internal combustion engine was invented and became available could inventors develop full-sized models.

A number of technical problems challenged the early developers of helicopters. These included limited knowledge of the aerodynamics of vertical flight, the lack of a suitable engine, the inability to keep the weight of the structure and engine low enough, the problem of excessive vibration, the inability to deal with the torque created by the propellers, and the inability to achieve adequate stability and control.

â€"ťJudy Rumerman

References and Sources:

Gablehouse, Charles. Helicopters and Autogiros; A History of Rotating-wing and V/STOL Aviation. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1969.

Don't you just love Google? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

Fritz

Luftwaffe_109
08-13-2005, 05:28 AM
On a some what related note, I do believe it was Flettner who actually achieved the helicopter's first quantity production order, from the Kriegsmarine in 1940, for 6 Flettner Fl 265s, which had two intermeshing rotors.

http://avia.russian.ee/vertigo/foto/flettner-265.jpg

Also, the first helicopter to carry gun armament was the two-rotor Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 Drache transport helicopter (a 7.9 mm MG 15 could be fitted into the nose for self-defence purposes). Only a dozen or so were completed.

It could carry four passengers or lift 900 kg.

http://www.vrtulnik.cz/helo2004.jpg


As for who first used the helicopter operationally, I'm unsure, but I do know that the two-seat Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri was used operationally in the Second World War. It was used for general liaison purposes and from various ships (including cruisers and merchants), for scouting and for anti-submarine reconnaissance. Only about 24 were completed by the end of the war.

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a25/Dennis134/heli.jpg

WarWolfe_1
08-13-2005, 07:29 AM
Leonardo da vinci


He ceme up with the concept, but it was never built nor refined. This is what my art history Prof told us.

NonWonderDog
08-13-2005, 09:30 AM
Originally posted by Pirschjaeger:
The Wright Brother are famed for having the first powered flight. I remember reading somewhere that at the time of their first flight it had already been done by a French man not long before. I think there was kind of a "flight race" going on and there were actually many successful flights made around the same time. The Wright brothers simply had the best marketing, not the best product.

Sorry I can't give the details. It wasn't that interesting to me. Also, the fact that the human race only figured out how to fly only about a century ago is nothing to be proud of.

We were dealing with individual atoms before this. Much more complicated technology.

Fritz

Yeah, they were the best marketers, but the Wright Flyer was important because it had rudders, an elevator, and warping wings. Previous heavier than air flights just kind of went straight ahead without much control over anything, but the Wrights could actually turn their plane a bit. That may not be why they became famous, but it's one of the main reasons that no one has really tried to pooh-pooh them for a long time.

Or, at least, that's what I was told.

Fox_3
08-13-2005, 10:01 AM
'Sikorsky R-4 helicopters have been reported in action on the Burma Front for special duties.'

Aircraft of the Fighting Powers, Vol.V, Harborough Publishing Co. Published October 1944.

Friendly_flyer
08-13-2005, 12:03 PM
What's the difference that sets autogyros off from helicopters? They bout have a horizontal airscrew, how come an autogyro does not count as a helicopter?

Gibbage1
08-13-2005, 02:08 PM
Originally posted by Friendly_flyer:
What's the difference that sets autogyros off from helicopters? They bout have a horizontal airscrew, how come an autogyro does not count as a helicopter?

Autogyro's dont power the rotor. Autogyro's MUST have forward movement to gain lift. So they have a puller or pusher engine to pull the aircraft forward. It works much like a fixed wing aircraft were the rotor works like a wing.

Helicopters rotors are powered. Helicopters work purly off of the lift generated by the rotor and do not need forward speed. Helicopters can take off vertical, huver, and land vertical. All 3 of these things a autogyro CANT do. Autogyro's CAN take off and land in short distance though, but not huver.

P.S. Helicopters CAN autogyro of the engine dies. They dive, get as much forward speed as possible, and use that forward speed much like an autogyro to land. Very risky manuver and the helicopter wont be in good shape after the landing.

Friendly_flyer
08-13-2005, 02:13 PM
Oh. Thanks!

Does that mean the autogyro is as dependent on forward speed as any other aircraft? I guess they don't have the same toque problem that a normal helicopter has.

Gibbage1
08-13-2005, 02:17 PM
Originally posted by Friendly_flyer:
Oh. Thanks!

Does that mean the autogyro is as dependent on forward speed as any other aircraft? I guess they don't have the same toque problem that a normal helicopter has.

Yes, they are dependent on forward speed. They dont need as much speed as other aircraft since the blades are spinning much faster and generating a lot of lift then a fixed wing. That also means that autogyro's cant go very fast. They can land in a football stadium if needed since there approach can be very steep and slow.

As for torque, I am not sure. There is still torque from the engine and prop, but I dont know of the spinning blades cancles that out. I would think there is some, but less then single engine fixed wing. On the other hand, choppers have a HUGE ammount of torque. So much so they need a spinning prop pushing against it since those huge blades are powered.

Kocur_
08-13-2005, 02:34 PM
http://www.russian.ee/~star/vertigo/france.html

Igor Sikorski was one who designed "classical" helicopter arrangement, ie. main rotor and tail, horizontal axis rotor to counter main rotors torque. About 90% helicopters are built like that.

Wright brothers indeed did first:
1. heavier than air
2. powered
3. controlled in all 3 axis
flight.
The third makes difference to, say, Clement Ader's flight and all previous attempts.

Robert Goddard did build the first liquid fuel rocket. But the first to make practical use of liquid rockets however was von Braun with collegues.

Daiichidoku
08-13-2005, 02:37 PM
as i am a whie man in canada, it is too much of an effort to even look it up online...

but i do know of, and have seen vintage film of a german unpowered helicopter that was produced in small numbers

a one man copter that was carried (AFAIK) on the milch-cow u boats collapsed....when needed to fulfill its task of observation/spotting, it was assembled, brought top side, and actually towed by the sub, the forward speed of the sub made the helo rise with "negative auto rotation"

basically it was very ineffeficient para-sailing, but using the rotor for lift instead of an airfoil


anyone name this helo? pics?

even if unpowered, this would be the first known helo operatiuonal in miliatary service

berg417448
08-13-2005, 04:11 PM
Originally posted by Daiichidoku:
as i am a whie man in canada, it is too much of an effort to even look it up online...

but i do know of, and have seen vintage film of a german unpowered helicopter that was produced in small numbers

a one man copter that was carried (AFAIK) on the milch-cow u boats collapsed....when needed to fulfill its task of observation/spotting, it was assembled, brought top side, and actually towed by the sub, the forward speed of the sub made the helo rise with "negative auto rotation"

basically it was very ineffeficient para-sailing, but using the rotor for lift instead of an airfoil


anyone name this helo? pics?

even if unpowered, this would be the first known helo operatiuonal in miliatary service



Here you go:

Focke-Achgelis Fa 330A-1

http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/focke_achgelis.htm

Philipscdrw
08-13-2005, 06:02 PM
Hey, the Wright Brothers were a quantum leap ahead of everyone else, and they certainly didn't have good marketing!

Otto Lilienthal (or similar) had done a lot of work towards powered flight in the 1890s, and the Wrights bought his book. But when they built a glider (the 1900 or 1899 flyer?) with his designs, it didn't fly as they expected it to. So, they built a wind-tunnel, and researched a whole load of aerofoil sections, and found that Lilienthal was not accurate in his thinking.

The Wrights were the first designers to realise that an aeroplane requires positive control, something more than the rudder of a boat. Other designers at that time hadn't realised this.

The Wrights were using a very well-thought-out process to design their aircraft, until the 1903 flyer flew. They knew the mass and drag of every component of the aircraft. Every year they would fly their new aircraft and from the results, they would design the next year's aircraft. I forget the details, I read a very interesting book on their process. After the 1903 flyer, though, they were more or less making random changes - changing the shape of the wingtips, for instance - and seeing what happened.

After about 1905, IIRC, they gave up and went back to building bicycles, and spent the rest of their lives trying to convince the world that their aircraft was the first. The Smithsonian insisted that Samuel Cody's Aerodrome was the first powered aircraft until the mid-fifties, I think, when they relented (after at least one of the Wrights was dead) and begged the 1903 flyer from the Science Museum in London...

RNZAFJay
08-14-2005, 12:58 AM
Actually a New Zealander named Richard Piece was thought to have achieved the first powered flight six months before the Wright Brothers. However there were only a few witnesses, no photographic evidence thus no way to prove it.

History is like a court of law, its not what really happened, its what you can PROVE.

Thus, rightly so, the Wright Brothers are considered the first to fly although it is possible, but not provable, that others flew before them. Interesting debate though.

Nick_Toznost
08-15-2005, 07:26 PM
Well.........thanks for all the replies. This is a subject, it seems that will never be resolved.
Saw a TV program recently about a British guy called Percy Pilcher who flew a powered flight to his death in 1902, it was in front of a limited audience at a garden party apparantly, they should have taken photographs, history could have been changed.
It just seemed strange to me that the Wright brothers have such fame and will always be remembered, despite their competition at the time, whereas no-one seems to know who to credit the helicopter to.