A revealing view of the 1907 Cornu helicopter, with its 24hp Antoinette engine and twin, tandem disposed belt driven twin-bladed rotors. The two surfaces at the fore-and-aft extremities of the machine are stabiliser planes. As with other designers of his time, Cornu, lacking modern-day systems and component supplier support, had to improvise by using such 'off-the-shelf' items as standard bicycle wheels.
The Frenchman, Paul Cornu, sitting in his 1907 helicopter. Powered by a 24hp Antoinette engine, this fore-and-aft, tandem rotored machine lifted its designer/pilot to the height of 1 foot for 20 seconds on 13 November 1907 to establish the world's first free-flying helicopter lift-off. Cornu's French rival, the Gyroplane I devised by Louis Breguet and Prof. Charles Richet had successfully taken a man aloft some six or so weeks earlier, on 29 September. However, as the Gyroplane lacked stability, it required four men standing at four corners and armed with poles to push and prod it in order to prevent its toppling, thus eliminating it from consideration as a free flier.