How does a helicopter take off
The first helicopter takes off
The first known model of a helicopter is a Chinese toy that dates back to the fourth century BC. It is a kind of top that is rotated between the palms of the hands and then gently soars into the air with bird feathers.
At the end of the 15th century, a drawing in Leonardo da Vinci's hand gave the idea for today's helicopter. But the propulsion problem remains unsolved, so the vertically ascending helicopter will remain a tantalizing dream for the next three centuries.
The first helicopter flight succeeds
In 1907 the Frenchman Paul Cornu made his first helicopter flight. Its free flight takes half a minute and the "flying bike" with a combustion engine hovers 30 centimeters above the ground.
However, if you land hard, the machine breaks. Cornu does not follow the development of his helicopter for lack of money.
The forerunners of the helicopter were bulky devices with heavy engines and imperfect control systems. At the beginning of the 20th century, the helicopter pioneers can barely lift off the ground with their constructions. Even so, their limited successes show that vertical flight is possible.
The gyroplane - a revolutionary aircraft
In 1922, Etienne Oehmichen built an aircraft with two rotors and eight propellers. Two of them provide the drive, one has the control function and the remaining five provide lateral stability. With this helicopter he made the first circular flight in 1924.
In the same year, Oehmichen set the first weightlifting record with his helicopter: he lifted 100 kilograms to a height of one meter with his helicopter.
The way to the really usable helicopter leads through the Spaniard Juan de la Cierva. He developed the gyrocopter and was the first to discover the possibility of autorotation:
In his "Autogiros" the rotor blades are not rigid, but attached to the rotor head with flapping joints. They adapt to the air flow and make a stable straight flight possible.
In 1928, Cierva became the first pilot to cross the English Channel in his rotary wing aircraft. His invention of the rotatably mounted rotor blades with an adjustable set-down angle is the model for all further developments.
Licenses for the replica of his gyroplane are given to manufacturers in Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the USA. More than 500 Cierva autogiros are manufactured worldwide.
Focke Wulf Fw 61 - a milestone
In Germany, Henrich Focke takes over the license for the Cierva autogiros in his Bremen plant. However, since the gyrocopter do not take off vertically and hover in place, Focke addresses this problem. He founds a research department that develops helicopters.
Focken's construction is called Fw-61: an aircraft fuselage with a stubby propeller at the front, braced arms on the left and right instead of wings, on which rotors the size of a windmill turn. On June 26, 1936, the Fw-61 took off vertically for the first time.
At the Berlin colonial exhibition, pilot Hanna Reitsch flies the Focke-Wulf helicopter Fw-61 with a flight program of several minutes as the highlight of the evening. In the closed Deutschlandhalle, it flies forwards, backwards, sideways and turns around 60 degrees.
This public flight makes the professional world aware of the versatile possibilities of the helicopter and at the same time documents the great progress. Henrich Focke continues to develop his helicopter, especially for war missions.
However, only a few copies made it to the front until 1945. It was only after the Second World War that the helicopter was also used in the rescue service, for traffic monitoring or for checking pipelines.
Why is the helicopter flying?
In an aircraft, the day surfaces provide lift, the engines provide for forward movement and the ailerons, rudder and elevator controls. The rotor takes on all of these functions in a helicopter. The lift force is created on the rotating rotor blades, which are moved by an engine.
With increasing speed, a negative pressure is created above the rotor, and the air pressure under the rotor blade pushes the helicopter upwards. The pilot can adjust the rotor blades so that they displace more or less air.
There are a total of six ways to change the helicopter's position in the air: forwards, backwards, sideways with the joystick and turning around the three axes with the joystick. For reasons of control, the rotor blades are only accelerated up to a specified speed.
With the help of the engine, this speed can then be kept constant while hovering or in flight. The speed depends on the diameter of the rotor, the nature and the number of blades.
Acrobats of the skies
Countless people owe their lives to the helicopter: The technical wonders are in action for mountain, disaster, sea service, fire or accident rescue. You bring a team of doctors to the scene of the accident as quickly as possible.
In the world, Germany first had the best-developed air rescue system, which many other countries still use today. In 1970 "Christoph 1" was the first German rescue helicopter to take off on its maiden flight in Munich.
When goods or people have to be brought quickly and directly to a specific location, helicopters do it. They are now an important element of logistics. In the high mountains, the helicopters take over the transport of building materials and components, as the overland routes are usually not suitable for this.
Transport helicopters are used on oil rigs to transport civilian passengers. Especially in the open sea, the helicopters sometimes only have very small platforms available for landing.
Off the English North Sea coast, for example, the helicopters fly to lighthouses, land on their tips and transport personnel, material and provisions.
The police use the helicopter for traffic monitoring, tracing and crime fighting. The rotary wing also performs indispensable services in pest control.
The helicopter has proven itself in our everyday life wherever speed, overview and independence of terrain are important.
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