Helicopter means Italianity! The one who laid the foundations for designing this vehicle was Leonardo Da Vinci in 1486, to be precise.
The greatest artist and inventor in history, he designed a flying machine with revolving wings, thanks to the idea of the propeller; however more water under the bridges, and I would say clouds in the sky above all, were supposed to pass.
Helicopter really means Italianity, even though many abroad claim the paternity. The invention of the helicopter is tricolour! Regarding the world of flight, the inventions of the airplane and helicopter, although coming from a common history, they had parted ways. The study of flight by two wings continued in one way; while the one that provided for the operation of a higher propeller had other tortuous developments.
With some certainty, in this regard, we can say that the first that can be classified as a real helicopter, even if embryonic, dates back to the end of the nineteenth century. The ancestor of our modern helicopters, is undoubtedly the one developed by the Italian engineer Enrico Forlanini in 1877. All the aircraft at the time were delicate, just think that at the beginning the planes were wooden, very unstable and very fragile. The prototype of the engineer Forlanini was a small aircraft with a steam engine weighing about three kilos.
Corradino D’Ascanio and the helicopter
The helicopter of Forlanini managed to rise up to about 13 meters from the ground, but its steam structure did not allow much autonomy or pilot. We will have to wait until 1907 to see a bizarre aircraft equipped with a pilot lift off the ground. That year, Paul Cornu made another prototype with pedals, which operated rotating propellers, but it was almost a toy.
This prototype had no future, in fact, it rose from the ground only about thirty centimeters, and then fell down ruinously. In short, from the time of Forlanini, they were stalling, if not dropping into recession. The only helicopter’s father is Corradino D’Ascanio. The brilliant inventor has gone down in history for having conceived the Vespa, which has had a global success with few precedents. Born in 1891, he dreamt of flying since childhood, and he was attracted by aeronautical science, which was to the very beginning.
Enrolled at the prestigious Royal Institute of Engineering in Turin, he graduated in 1914 and few were able to keep up with his futuristic ideas. Perhaps D’Ascanio was too far ahead of its time. In 1906, after the Wright brothers’ flight, he designed and tested a sort of hang glider and made it fly successfully in the Abruzzo hills. During the war Corradino D’Ascanio installed the first radio on a vehicle and contributed to the modification of dozens of biplanes.
For him the flight was really an obsession. The successes of this visionary inventor have been numerous, but he did not always find an open mind, capable of supporting him. Evidently the time was not yet ripe. D’Ascanio’s “helicopters” to irrigate the fields are also brilliant. They are the ancestors of today’s drones, in which at first no one believed.
Ugo Veniero D’Annunzio
One of the winning strategies of the engineer D’Ascanio was undoubtedly that of opening a company together with Ugo Veniero D’Annunzio; an engineer, son of Gabriele. Thus a small aircraft was born on which the engine of a Harley Davidson was mounted. In those years he built many structures and patented some new inventions. Finally, one day, the first fully functional Italian helicopter took off on the Ciampino airport runway.
It was the D’AT3, designed and built entirely by the genius of Corradino D’Ascanio, and led by Major Marinello Nelli. It was October 8, 1930, and the Italian “flying machine” won the record in flight duration of 8′ 45”; the tenth record of distance with 1,079 meters in a straight line, and the thirteenth in absolute. The event had great prominence in the press, especially that of eighteen meters in height; records that will remain unbeaten for some years.