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Westland Sea King helicopter of 845 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Navy (Serbia, 1997)

A helicopter is a rotary wing aircraft. The first practical helicopter was developed in 1939 by Russian-born Igor Sikorsky (1889–1972).

Helicopter flight was the first flight envisioned by man. In fact, the ancient Chinese were playing with a hand-spun toy that rose upward when revolved rapidly and as early as the mid 1500s, the great Italian inventor Leonardo da Vinci had used his fertile mind to make drawings of a machine that we now know as the helicopter.[1]

Each blade in a helicopter rotor is an airfoil, a wing with a curved top and a straight bottom. As the blade spins around, air travels faster over the top surface than under the bottom. This reduces air pressure above the blade and produces an upward force called lift. The pitch of the blades (the angle they make to the incoming airflow) controls the amount of lift. During takeoff, the pilot increases the pitch with a control called the collective pitch stick. The lift produced is greater than the helicopter's weight and this makes the helicopter rise upward. If the lift exactly equals the weight, the helicopter hovers. If the weight is greater than the lift, the helicopter descends to Earth.[2]

Bell Helicopter Textron, is a producer of commercial and military helicopters, and the pioneer of the revolutionary tiltrotor aircraft.

See also

External links


  1. Helicopter History Site
  2. How helicopters work