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The History Of The Helicopter

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Made in the 1950s by the Shell Oil Co., this film "History of the Helicopter" features a look at the revolutionary machine that, at the time the film was made, had only recently come into wide use. The film features a brief look back at some of the failed attempts to build a helicopter, and discusses Breguet, Sikorsky, Berliner and others who were convinced that rotary wings were the answer to the problem of flying. The film also shows the autogiro, a relative of the helicopter. Modern helicopters shown include the Bristol 171, the Airhorse by Cierva, Sikorsky S-51, Piasecki flying banana, and the Fairey Gyrodyne.

The Cierva W.11 Air Horse was a helicopter developed by the Cierva Autogiro Company in the United Kingdom during the mid-1940s. The largest helicopter in the world at the time of its debut, the Air Horse was unusual for using three rotors mounted on outriggers, and driven by a single engine mounted inside the fuselage.

Louis Charles Breguet (January 2, 1880 in Paris – May 4, 1955 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France) was a French aircraft designer and builder, one of the early aviation pioneers. In 1905, with his brother Jacques, and under the guidance of Charles Richet, he began work on a gyroplane (the forerunner of the helicopter) with flexible wings. It achieved the first ascent of a vertical-flight aircraft with a pilot in 1907. He built his first fixed-wing aircraft, the Breguet Type I in 1909, flying it successfully before crashing it at the Grande Semaine d'Aviation held at Reims. In 1911 he founded the Société anonyme des ateliers d’aviation Louis Breguet. In 1912, Breguet constructed his first hydroplane.

He is especially known for his development of reconnaissance aircraft used by the French in World War I and through the 1920s. One of the pioneers in the construction of metal aircraft, the Breguet 14 single-engined day bomber, perhaps one of the most widely used French warplanes of its time, had an airframe constructed almost entirely of aluminium structural members. As well as the French, sixteen squadrons of the American Expeditionary Force also used it.

In 1919, he founded the Compagnie des messageries aériennes, which evolved into Air France.

Over the years, his aircraft set several records. A Breguet plane made the first nonstop crossing of the South Atlantic in 1927. Another made a 4,500-mile (7,200 km) flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1933, the longest nonstop Atlantic flight up to that time.

He returned to his work on the gyroplane in 1935. Created with co-designer René Dorand, the craft, called the Gyroplane Laboratoire, flew by a combination of blade flapping and feathering. On December 22, 1935, it established a speed record of 67 mph (108 km/h). It was the first to demonstrate speed as well as good control characteristics. The next year, it set an altitude record of 517 feet (158 m).

Breguet remained an important manufacturer of aircraft during World War II and afterwards developed commercial transports. Breguet’s range equation, for determining aircraft range, is also named after him. He died of a heart attack in 1955 at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

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