First Successful Helicopter In America – 1909

First Successful Helicopter In America – 1909    

     The first successful helicopter to be flown in America was invented by New Englander, J. Newton Williams of Derby, Connecticut, and Emile Berliner of Washington, D.C.   The following newspaper article appeared in the Los Angeles Herald on July 1, 1909, page 5.


Heavier-Than-Air Machine Lifts Itself

     Experiments Made In Suburb Of Washington City Prove Air Craft Able To Ascend With Operator 

     Washington, June 30. –  For the first time in America a helicopter, a heavier than air type of flying machine, which depends on aerial screws for its lifting power , has successfully lifted itself with an operator.  A machine built by J. Newton Williams of Derby, Conn., and Emile Berliner of this city, lifted Mr. Williams from the ground on three occasions.  

     The experiment was made a day or two ago at Mr. Berliner’s laboratory near Brentwood, a suburb of this city.  The only other machine that is known to have made a similar performance is that of M. Cornu, a Frenchman.

     Scientists have always had great respect for the helicopter type of flying machine.  The Williams helicopter, with the operator, weighs about 600 pounds and has a lifting surface of only eighty square feet.

     The surface consists of two pairs of propellers revolving horizontally in opposite directions at the end of a vertical shaft. 

     The propellers are eight feet eight inches in diameter.  In the successful experiments the machine was so confined that it could not rise more than ten inches, but it rose to that height.

     In previous experiments the Williams machine had risen without an operator and it moved rapidly along a track in tests.  The forward motion is obtained by the operator shifting his position forward. 

     The revolving motors of thirty-six horse power each are used, but it is intended to use only one motor.

     It is also expected to reduce weight of the complete machine without the operator to 325 pounds.  It now weighs 450 pounds.

     Mr. Berliner has left for Europe, but the work of preparing the new motor will proceed.


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