This Week in HistoryThis Week in History: Week 46 (13 November 1907)

Frenchman Flies The First Helicopter

French bicycle maker Paul Cornu flies his home-made helicopter for 20 seconds.

In 1907, French engineer and bicycle maker Paul Cornu designed and built the first helicopter to successfully fly. Cornu himself piloted the first flight and ascended to an altitude of 1 foot. He hovered there for 20 seconds before descending and landing on the 4 bicycle wheels which acted as the helicopter's landing gear. Later improvements in design led to his record flight to a height of 5 feet.

helicopter (noun): aircraft, with rotating blades, that can hover over land or water
engineer (noun): a person who finds or creates technical solutions to mechanical problems
pilot (verb): operate an aircraft
ascend (verb): go up
landing gear (noun): the wheels and supporting parts of an aircraft

First helicopter to successfully fly
The first helicopter to successfully fly is sometimes called the "flying bicycle".
(Image courtesy C.Gablehouse Helicopters and Autogiros, 1969)

Mini Quiz

1. Before landing his helicopter after its first successful flight, Cornu had to
a) descend for twenty seconds
b) descend one foot
c) descend directly over four bicycles

Show answer


2. Cornu made what became his record flight after he had
a) built a better helicopter
b) improved his flying technique
c) increased the altitude by 5 feet

Show answer


3. An aircraft's landing gear is
a) the place on which an aircraft lands
b) the parts of the aircraft on which it lands
c) the data a pilot uses when landing an aircraft

Show answer


Contributor: Matt Errey creator of Word Up