Development of Helicopter Research Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 9
  • Subject: Transportation
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #69010684

Excerpt from Research Paper :


When most people think of the helicopter, they will often talk about commercial and military aircraft. As there is an emphasis on how the latest technology is changing the industry. A good example of this occurred, in May 2011 when the U.S. Navy Seals used a special rotor that could not be heard in surrounding area or seen on radar. This is illustrating the advancements in the helicopter technology over the last few years. To fully understand what is happening requires carefully examining its development. Once this takes place, is when the recent innovations will highlight a trend that has been occurring since the aircraft was first placed into active use during the Second World War. (Emspak, 2011) (Patillo, 2001, pp. 142 -- 148)

Early History of the Helicopter

The early history of the helicopter dates back to around 400 BC. This is when the Chinese theorized that some kind of flying machine could be developed based upon a child's toy that involved a single spinning piece at the top. Then, in the 1480s Leonardo Di Vinci created the first design based on what he called an aerial screw. This helped to give Russian and French scientists from the 1750s to the 1780s a foundation to work off of. They created a design that was based on two counter rotators to help the machine remain stable in flight. (Leishman, 2006, pp. 18 -- 35) (McGowan, 2003, pp. 1 -- 22)

However, it was not until the 1860s and 1870s when there were different prototypes developed by French scientists. Their design was based on a single blade that utilized steam to fuel the machine. This is when the term helicopter was first used. Despite the improvements in technology, no one was able to make any kind of significant breakthroughs in flight. Instead, many of these machines were considered to be dangerous based upon: the inability to hover in one place and conduct vertical takeoffs / landings safely. (Leishman, 2006, pp. 18 -- 35) (McGowan, 2003, pp. 1 -- 22)

A good example of this occurred, in 1885 when Thomas Edison hired John Bennett Jr. To create a vertical machine that was capable of moving in different directions. Despite several innovations and breakthroughs (i.e. The use of the internal combustion engine), the project resulted in the explosion and injury of several workers. However, despite these setbacks the foundation from Edison's research created enough of a blue print for future breakthroughs. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 1 -- 22)

This occurred when Slovak inventor Jan Bayhil developed the first working prototype of a machine powered by a gasoline engine. On May 5, 1905 his machine hovered for a total of four meters (in the course of five minutes). This was the first successful test flight of the helicopter. However, Edison continued with his work and patented his own device in 1906 (although it never flew). At the same time, French inventors created their own prototypes that were tested and flew longer than the experiments conducted by the Bayil. These developments set the stage for future innovations in helicopters. This would lead to it becoming the aircraft of choice for many organizations. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 1 -- 22) ("Pioneers," 2012)

New Developments in Technology

Throughout the early 20th century, the French continued with their developments into the helicopter. The most significant breakthroughs occurred in 1920. This is when Argentine Pescara created a new design that helped to improve the ability of the machine to remain stable during flight. As a result, he designed an aircraft that had wings and a single (cylindrical looking) rotator. This allowed their machine to climb higher and remain controlled during vertical takeoffs / hovering. The combination of these factors created a situation where the helicopter became an aircraft that could evolve into a reliable transportation solution. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 1 -- 22) ("Pioneers," 2012)

However, there were still tremendous innovations that were required for conducting any kind of successful tests (to show that the helicopter was reliable and safe). As a result, the British government provided direct funding to Pescara. He was able to develop a machine that was capable of maintaining flight for ten minutes. Then, in 1924 Etinne Oehmichen created his own helicopter that was able to fly a total of 360 meters. This sparked a competition between Oehmichen and Pescara. In this case, Pescara was able to improve his helicopter and fly it for a distance of 736 meters. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 1 -- 22) ("Pioneers," 2012)

This inspired other inventors around the world to create their own helicopters based on the rotor engine design. It is at this point that aggressive research was started in locations such as: the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, Russia and Germany. The techniques and prototypes that were created and tested, demonstrated how the helicopter could be used for both civilian and military purposes. Throughout the 1920s and into the early 1930s, these innovators demonstrated how this could play a major part in a host of activities. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 1 -- 22) ("Pioneers," 2012)

Then in 1936, Nazi Germany introduced and began utilizing the Focke-Wulf FW 6. This helicopter was capable of maintaining a flight envelope and had more maneuverability in comparison with previous models. During the initial testing, these different factors allowed the aircraft to break all of the previous records that had been established. As a result, the Germans began using helicopters to travel longer distances. However, the German high command was not completely convinced about the durability and limited the use of the aircraft to mainly: transport, observation along with medical evacuation. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 1 -- 22) ("Pioneers," 2012) (Loeing, 1944, pp. 24 -- 25) (Patillo, 2001, pp. 142 -- 148)

In the United States, Igor Sirkorsky worked exclusively with the Army to develop a helicopter which could be used for: transportation, evacuation and possibly more. The results were the introduction of the single engine VS 300 and R. 4. Like with Nazi Germany, the Allies were not completely convinced about the practical applications of the helicopter in warfare. This caused them to limit its usage. However, there was support inside the Navy, Coast Guard and Army who found useful purposes for the aircraft. In the case of the Navy and Coast Guard, they started using the helicopter to conduct observation missions and patrols of commercial areas. This was designed to help prevent u boat attacks on allied shipping lanes. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 25-48) (Johnson, 1994, pp. 3 -- 27) (Loeing, 1944, pp. 24 -- 25) (Patillo, 2001, pp. 142 -- 148)

At the same time, the U.S. Army and the British would use the helicopter for missions involving transportation and evacuation of critical personnel. This occurred in areas such as: Burma, Alaska and other locations with rough terrain. Despite its limited usage, Sirkorsky continued to innovate and develop new models (i.e. The R. 5 and the R. 6). As the war was ending, he established an industry that was selling its products to the military. Moreover, he was continuing to demonstrate how the aircraft could be utilized for a wide variety of purposes. The combination of these factors, created a situation where helicopter went from an experimental device to a machine that was capable of addressing a wide variety of needs. From select points-of-view, these advantages of the helicopter are what helped to build its following. During World War II, the advancements in the technology allowed for aircraft remain stable. This is when it became the tool of choice for flying into locations that were difficult for airplanes. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 25-48) (Johnson, 1994, pp. 3 -- 27) (Loeing, 1944, pp. 24 -- 25) (Patillo, 2001, pp. 142 -- 148)

The Application of Commercial and Military Use

After the end of World War II, is when there would be transformations in helicopter design and usage. The biggest change occurred during the 1950s with the introduction of the turbo prop engine. What happened was the U.S. Navy began work on developing an aircraft that could fly further than any other prototype that was developed. After years of research, Charles Kammen created the K225 Skycopter. This was smaller and had greater amounts of maneuverability in comparison with models that were using the roto block engines. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 51-121) ("A History of Helicopter Flight," 2010)

At the same time, the body was redesigned to be longer and more aero dynamic. The combination of these factors helped the helicopter to fly greater distances. During this time, is when the practical applications for commercial and military use were continually evolving. These innovations improved the reliability of the aircraft. (McGowan, 2003, pp. 51-121) ("A History of Helicopter Flight," 2010)

During the late 1950s and into the 1960s, is when designers in the United States, Europe and Russia began to work on other models using turbo prop technology. This involved the creation of different models using one single blade. While at other times, this took place utilizing two traditional…

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