Many people may not know this, but in fact the famous fifteenth/sixteenth-century artist Leonardo DaVinci invented the helicopter.
He designed a vehicle with a large ‘Helical Air Screw’ on top that would use that device to climb up into the air. This is exactly the same principle as the helicopter, which has a large ‘airscrew’ on top – nowadays (specifically on the helicopter) we call it a ‘rotor’, and indeed all such devices like propellers, fans, impellers and rotors are still known today as ‘airscrews’. Any device like a propeller or rotor is esssentially designed to ‘screw’, or drill, its way through the air (or water for a marine propeller), which is why it spins very fast. Leonardo wasn’t just an artist; he was what is known as a ‘polymath’ – someone who is brilliant at lots of things, art being just one of his many talents.
Sadly, most of Leonardo’s concepts, although incredibly far ahead of his time, were essentially not going to work in his time because of the limitations of materials science and power technology. Structurally, the airscrew would likely not have supported the vehicle, and in any case the powerplant – four men turning cranks – would have been insufficient to generate enough thrust to lift the vehicle. Had it been available at the time, not even steam power would have been able to generate enough oomph to lift Leonardo’s helicopter. Indeed, it was only the advent of the internal combustion engine that enabled powerplants to be built with enough power and low enough weight to be used in heavier-than-air aircraft.
And Leonardo also ‘got’ the emotional element of flight too. From the quote I share below, it is apparent that he would have understood the heady feelings of flight and the euphoria it can produce.
We have a saying that sometimes it takes a week or so for the grin to disapper from our faces after a successful day’s flying.
I think Leonardo would have had the same problem, don’t you?
For more information on Leonardo’s flying machine inventions – and his others, too – click the image below (takes you to a new website in a new tab)
Of course, Leonardo DaVinci did the odd bit of art as well 😉
Recently, I had a request from the Webmaster of a Leonardo DaVinci art site, to provide a link to their site – so here it is, if you are interested. I’m not necessarily recommending the site or its services, but it looks reasonably bona-fide, and you can definitely view Leonardo’s art there. So I’m just providing the link. Click the Mona Lisa below to go there.