Back Amecourt


If practical results were not forthcoming, there was one memorable advance achieved during this period by an enthusiastic French pioneer, Viscomte Gustave de Ponton d'Amecourt, who was responsible for the creation of the word "helicopter". D'Amecourt was instrumental in further rotating-wing research, heading a small band of prophets and enthusiasts who were passionately involved with the dream of the helicopter. Others in the group included Gabriel de la Landelle and the early photographer Felix Nadar. A contemporary description of these three proponents of vertical flight was the "Triumvirat Helicoidal". D'Amecourt built a small steam-driven model of his design (still in the French Air Museum) in 1863 and took out French and British patents on it. Impressed with the work of the group, Jules Verne later wrote a science-fiction novel, published in 1886, that was titled Robur le conquerant. The hero of this epic cruised the skies in a giant helicopter.

G.Apostolo "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters", 1984


Very shortly after Giffard successfully made a circular flight with his airship, Ponton d'Amecourt started his work on helicopters in the conviction that they were the only possible way to solve the problem of aerial navigation. He encountered the difficulty which until the start of the twentieth century baffled all workers with heavier-than-air craft: in Ponton d'Amecourt's time there was no engine light enough for flying.

Ponton d'Amecourt therefore built a small aluminium, model driven by the steam from a coil-shaped boiler. This model with its two contra-rotating co-axial rotors is still preserved in the French Aeronautical Museum.

P.Lambermont "Helicopters and Autogyros of the World", 1958

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