Paul Cornu (1881–1944), a Frenchman from Lisieux, along with his father Jules and brother Jacques, undertook the development of several rotating‐wing aircraft concepts from 1906 to 1908. Their work encompassed the development of flying models, attempts at flying a piloted
helicopter, the construction of a coaxial rotor testbed, and the conceptual design of a convertiplane. Paul and Jules Cornu's aeronautical patents included a method of flight control using differentially activated louvers, and a cyclic blade pitch system using a form of swashplate. Many have
claimed that Paul Cornu first successfully flew his tandem‐rotor helicopter during November of 1907. However, an engineering analysis shows that any claim to successful piloted flight, free of the ground and under positive control, is extremely dubious. Although the Cornus were clearly
successful in building and flying a model of their helicopter, besides not having a suitable engine available to them, what they lacked was the necessary understanding of rotor aerodynamics and a means of producing effective flight control, to successfully realize a piloted helicopter concept.
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Document Type: Research Article
Department of Aerospace Engineering, Glenn L. Martin Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Publication date: 2009-07-01
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