Ever since I was little, I had always been fascinated by helicopters. Where I grew up in Edmonton, on the south side, we were below the flight path between an international airport further south, and an RCAF airbase to the north. I would hear their rotor blades from a distance, but it was always hard to judge where the sound was coming from, so sometimes it was a game to guess first, then run outside to look for it. I wished that I could one day get an opportunity to touch and perhaps even operate a helicopter.
Recently, my family visited an aviation museum with lots of helicopters, and I’ve got lots of pictures to share, but first, because this is homepage for a helicopter website, I’ll give a little historical preamble about them.
The first fully functional helicopter was designed and built by Igor Sikorsky in the year 1942. However, people had been building and flying helicopters long before that.
I was amazed to learn that these machines were based on flying toys made by children in the year 400BC. In the year 1481, famous inventor Leonardo da Vinci invented a machine that looked similar to a helicopter. He called it the aerial screw. After that, a machine with rotors was built in 1861 and called a helicopter. However, it could not fly. Then in the year 1907, a helicopter took its first flight and the world of aviation was changed forever.
The best aviation museum I’ve visited so far, was in Berlin, at a decommissioned airport in suburb called Gatow. We had freedom to walk all over the place, including into many hangars and the control tower.
One of the advantages of helicopters is that they have a built in safety system that prevents it from crashing in case of engine failure. The folks at the airport museum describe that if a helicopter engine stops, the rotors will continue spinning and reduce in speed. This allows the machine to slowly land.
Obviously, helicopters can do many things that airplanes are unable to do. Vertically taking off without requiring a runway, of course, and flying sideways and backwards. In some movies, I’ve seen helicopters briefly flying upside down, but that seems like a stunt that they are not designed for.
There is also a type of aircraft that is based on helicopters. It is known as a gyroplane, and because this website used to be exclusively about gyroplanes, I’ve got some articles posted about the GBA brand of gyros.
Nowadays, I usually see helicopters either at the hospital where I work, (St. Mary’s hospital in Camrose), or at the Camrose airport. The STARS company uses helicopters as ambulances for medevac. They serve to fly patients to the big hospitals in Edmonton in emergency situations.
In Canada, search and rescue missions is a big thing, and helicopters are part of it, especially for rescues, whereas fixed wing airplanes are better for searching.
These machines can also be used to fight forest fires. The helicopters are loaded with tanks full of water and they fly over the fire spraying it. This is a very effective method of fighting small fires.
I was able to earn that these machines are used in the military for more than just war. They can be used to fly supplies and troops in and out of war zones. They also fly food and supplies to warships in the ocean. Moreover, they are used to move cargo from one place to another.
I was amazed to see a helicopter that is known as the NASA Skycrane. It is a frame of a helicopter that can lift object as big as a house from one place to another.
The media industry also uses helicopters extensively. They fly them over highways and roads so as to report on the state of traffic. I thought this was an ingenious way to use helicopters. Wealthy people use them to fly from city to city. It saves them time because they don’t have to board airplanes at the airport and wait in queues. Moreover, law enforcement also uses helicopters. They use them to search for fugitives. Moreover, they fly special operators to emergency response areas. I didn’t know that helicopters were this versatile. I was simply amazed. As the day wound down, I was grateful to get an opportunity to see the machines that I have admired since I was young. Now I looked forward to flying in one!
Here’s a Eurocopter (MBB) Bo 105 M (VBH)
Here’s the Mil Mi-4A, also known as the Hound.
Here’s the Vertol H-21 C (V-43), or Shawnee.
Here’s the Mil Mi-8T, also know as the Hip.
Here’s the Mil Mi-2, or Hoplite.
Bell helicopters, here’s a common one, the UH-1D.
Now look at this one, it’s a Eurocopter (MBB) Bo 105 M (VBH)