It was a long process to get to the actual creation of a functional helicopter. Leonardo da Vinci developed plans for what he called an “aerial screw” in the 1480s, which was more or less a helicopter. It wasn’t until 1861 that the actual term “helicopter” was coined, by Gustave de Ponton d’Amecourt. Thomas Edison also experimented with helicopters, but didn’t succeed in having it actually fly. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that anything particularly successful was actually made that led to the helicopters of today.
Here are some interesting sites/articles as well as a picture of what many consider to be the first helicopter:
The first truly functional and practical helicopter was the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 which flew for the first time on 26 June 1936. There was another machine made that year by Breguet-Dorand, but the Fw 61 proved to be a vastly superior flyer. Doktor Heinrich Karl Johann Focke designed the Fw 61 which flew for 36 seconds the first time it became airborne. While this machine was far from the most advanced, it could definitely be considered the first helicopter (how we know them) by all practical means.
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