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Saturday, 27 June 2015


The two parts to the word “helicopter” are not "heli" and "copter". It is adapted from the French language hélicoptère, which originates from the Greek helix "spiral, whirl, convolution" and pteron "wing".

The first helicopter as we know them today was designed by Heinrich Focke in 1936. The first prototype of the Focke-Wulf Fw 61, had its maiden flight on June 26, 1936 with Ewald Rohlfs at the controls.

A replica of Fw 61, ILA 2006 at the Hubschraubermuseum in Bückeburg

Glaswegian Kenneth Watson became the world’s first passenger to ride in a helicopter on October 27, 1939. The development of the aircraft — a Weir 6 — was halted soon afterwards because of World War II.

Russian-born aeronautics engineer Igor Sikorsky emigrated to the U.S. after World War I and became known as the ‘father of the helicopter’. The composer Sergei Rachmaninoff helped him start his aviation company in 1923 with a personal cheque for $5,000.

Sikorsky designed and flew the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, the first viable American helicopter, which pioneered the rotor configuration used by most helicopters today. The first flight of the VS-300 was on May 24, 1940.

Igor Sikorsky in the VS-300, at the end of 1941

Sikorsky's success with the VS-300 led to the R-4, which became the world's first mass-produced helicopter in 1942.

Helicopters were used in warfare for the first time when the 1st Air Commando Group used a Sikorsky R-4 on April 22-23, 1944 for a combat search and rescue operation in the China-Burma-India border area.

The Sikorsky S-51, the first helicopter to be built for civilian instead of military use, made its first flight in 1946.

Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first US president to ride in a helicopter on July 12, 1957.  The President needed a quick way to reach his summer home in Pennsylvania, as Air Force One could not land at the White House. Eisenhower instructed his staff to look into alternative modes of transportation and a Sikorsky UH-34 Seahorse helicopter was commissioned.

The "Telecopter," the world's first TV news helicopter was introduced by KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles. It made its first successful broadcast on  on July 4, 1958. The "Telecopter" was a Bell Model 47 whose on-board video and audio equipment communicated with a line of sight KTLA transmitter receiver on top of Mount Wilson. For several years, KTLA was the only TV station with a helicopter based TV camera crewed reporting platform.

The AH-64 Apache, the primary attack helicopter for a number of countries, made its first flight. on September 30, 1975. The Apache originally started as the Model 77 developed by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra.
An AH-64 Apache from the U.S. Army's 101st Aviation Regiment in Iraq

The helicopter world speed record was set on August 11, 1986 when a a specially modified Westland Lynx averaged 249 mph (400kmph) over the Somerset Levels, with newly-designed blades made of plastic with a steel leading edge.

A Boeing 234LR Chinook crashed two-and-a-half miles east of Sumburgh Airport, the main airport serving Shetland in Scotland on November 6, 1986. 45 people were killed, making it the deadliest civilian helicopter crash on record.

 Boeing 234LR Chinook Wikipedia

The  Russian Mil V-12 was the largest helicopter ever built. It could transport 196 passengers.

The top speed of an Apache military helicopter is 176 mph — almost 20 per cent slower than a Lamborghini sports car.

Marine One—the U.S. president's helicopter—has antimissile defenses, ballistic armor, and a quiet interior, so the president needn't shout.

There is no single word for "helicopter" in North Korea.

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