This Frenchman was the first person to fly in a helicopter

Nowadays, flying by helicopter has become so common that there are even “helicopter cities”, that is, cities so overcrowded in their land traffic that the wealthiest citizens use a dense network of heliports to move from one point to another.

However, at the beginning of the 20th century, no one had yet flown in one of these devices. The first to do so was the following Frenchman.

French engineer Paul Cornu was the first person to fly in a helicopter. In 1907 he managed to take off with a hulk of his invention equipped with four propellers.

He used the light but solid structure of bicycles as the basis for the design of a flying machine that used a rotor instead of wings to fly.

Como only managed to rise a foot and a half above the ground, but it was enough for the helicopter to stop being a mere impossible fantasy and become a reality. That same day he made another attempt, managing to raise the machine to a height of one and a half meters, with Paul Cornu and his brother Jaques as passengers.

The flight was made on November 13, 1907 in the town of Lisieux, in the department of Calvados, in northwestern France.

In developing his machine, Cornu built a force balance for his rotor tests and was one of the first to conduct systematic experiments to study thrust and power requirements for vertical flight. The Cornu free flight test team, a model weighing up to 18kg lifted by a 24hp motor driving two contra-rotating rotors, was to perform several sustained flights, both hovering and forward flight, and with many witnesses of the event.

Cornu patented his design, and it is registered as US Patent 902,859, filed September 11, 1906.

Cornu died on June 6, 1944 under the rubble of his house, which was destroyed during the bombing raids before the Normandy landings by the Allies during World War II.

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