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Top 10: Flying Machines

Jonny Wilkes unveils the winners and runners up in ten categories that cover the history of human flight, from take-off to landing on other worlds…

TOP CHOPPER: THE ‘AERIAL SCREW’

Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian polymath, was centuries ahead of his time when it came to human flight. Over 400 years before the first helicopter took off, he sketched his idea for a wood-and-canvas screw-like flyer with blades 2 metres wide. It was never built (like his other flying machines – such as hang gliders, parachutes and a wing-flapping ‘ornithopter’) but the ‘aerial screw’ helped set human imagination skywards.

RUNNERS UP

FOCKE-WULF FW 61

Considered the first functional helicopter, flown in 1936.

THE ‘HUEY’

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois was vital to the US Army during the Vietnam War.

BOEING CH-47 CHINOOK

The tandem-rotored military behemoth

Other than miniature models like this, the 15th-century helicopter never got beyond da Vinci’s notebook
ALAMY X3, BRIDGEMAN IMAGES X1, GETTY X4, PRESS ASSOCIATION X1

4 The number of people required to operate da Vinci’s aerial screw – but this added to the weight of the contraption

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

The May 2016 issue of History Revealed