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"The Helicopter approaches closer than any vehicle to the fulfilment of man-kinds dreams of the flying horse and the magic carpet". Igor Sikorsky.
Since the dawn of time man has had dreams of levitation and flight. Those dreams are now widely interpreted as being indicative of an inherent desire for limitless freedom and empowerment. These same vivid dreams and desires are found in Greek Mythology perhaps best crystalized in the winged stallion Pegasus that ascended to the heavens.
In 1493 the famous artist Leonardo Da Vinci illustrated and described his 'Airscrew' invention. The concept design was for a 15 foot diameter tandem rotorcraft constructed of reed, linen and wire. Of course the absence of any 15th Century engines to power the rotorcraft somewhat hindered any possibility for actual flight, however the concept for a helicopter and pursuit of the omnipresent dream was born.
Leonardo's Da Vinci's vision for rotor flight would have to wait until, in 1939, a Russian Immigrant to the USA called Igor Sikorsky designed and flew his Vought Sikorsky VS-300. This early design was redesigned as the R-4 and became the first mass produced helicopter.
Fast forward another half a century and future generations of rotorcraft are free to operate safely in the same weather conditions as most advanced business jet aircraft. Flight in Icing and Instrument Approaches into people's houses or factories, afford the next generation of helicopter owner the possibility to have almost limitless aviation capability. The ability to depart directly from a mountain retreat high in the Alps and climb into the airways like a jet with the same levels of noise and passenger comfort is a giant leap in capability. Perhaps only now today, viewed against the backdrop of our ever crowded society, can we truly appreciate that original vision of Da Vinci. Owning a modern helicopter allows one to hold close and experience the sheer luxury of empowerment one derives from leaving the dull bounds of a 'grid locked' earth and ascending vertically to freedom.
Article by Richard Naylor and Tristan Smith - ExecuJet Aviation Group.