First helicopter design. Helicopter designed and drawn by the Italian inventor Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) in about 1500. This was the first helicopter designed to lift a person. The helical rotor was to be driven by the muscular power of the pilot. This meant that the helicopter would not have had enough power to take off. Leonardo devoted many years of research into studying flight and designing potential aircraft. Like many of his projects, the design was never published and the helicopter was never actually constructed. After Leonardo's death his notes lay unnoticed in a library until 1796. Successful helicopters were not developed until the 20th century.
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