by Rachel Dworkin, Archivist
The concept behind the helicopter is centuries old and dates at last as far back as 400 BC in China where children played with bamboo flying toys. Basically, the spinning of the rotor blades produces a downward pressure which, in turn, provides lift. In the 1480s, Leonardo De Vinci created designs for a flying machine, but the lack of an available working engine meant it never got off the page let alone the ground. The first truly functional helicopter was the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 designed by Professor Henrich Focke in 1936 and the first large-scale production of helicopters was undertaken by Sikorsky Manufacturing Company beginning in 1942.
De Vinci Helicopter or ‘Air Screw’
|Flight of the Hiliocopter|
So, why didn’t it work? It lacked some type of mechanism to control the torque. The most common of these mechanisms is tail rotor developed by Sikorsky. The tail rotor creates force in the opposite direction as the main blades to keep the whole thing from spinning. It also helps with forward propulsion and flight stabilization.
|Schweizer 300CBi Helicopter|