The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks: The Story of the Helicopter
James R. Chiles
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
History has known few more inventive minds than those responsible for the helicopter, mankind’s most versatile flying machine. From the aerodynamic artistry of Leonardo da Vinci, through the futuristic tales of Jules Verne, to the prototypes built by the horde of rotationally obsessed enthusiasts who followed, here is the definitive story of a modern icon.
Proposing that humans could hover in the air by hanging a fuselage beneath large spinning blades requires a substantial leap of the imagination—not to mention a pile of precision gadgetry. This unique book bears witness to the challenge of turning the earliest “rotating wing” aircraft into the helicopters that dominate news footage today.
The helicopter turned out to be much more agile and capable than the early inventors expected but also took longer to perfect than the airplane. Among the earliest of the helicopter hopefuls were nineteenth-century American greeting card printer Mortimer Nelson, French entrepreneurs Launoy and Bienvenu of prerevolutionary Paris, and English country squire George Cayley, builder of mankind’s first manned glider. The first controllable helicopter flew in the 1920s. While it has yet to take its place alongside the family car, as pioneer designer Igor Sikorsky hoped, the helicopter plays a significant role in all our lives.
In addition to transforming the ways of war, offering godlike views of inaccessible spots, and providing some of our most-watched TV moments—including the cloud of newscopters that trailed O. J. Simpson’s Bronco—the helicopter has revolutionized rescues worldwide by proving its ability to extract people from almost anywhere. In 2005 an astounding 35,500 people were saved from the perils of Hurricane Katrina—a feat impossible with any other machine.
James Chiles offers profiles of the many helicoptrians throughout history who contributed to the development of this amazing machine, and pays tribute to the selfless heroism of pilots and crews. A virtual flying lesson and uplifting scientific adventure tale, The God Machine is more than the history of an invention; it is a journey into the minds of imaginative thinkers and a fascinating look at the ways they changed our world.
spindles. To understand how the coaxial design might work on a helicopter, think of modifying a standard beach umbrella like so: slip a short metal tube over the wooden shaft of the umbrella and attach a second canopy to the upper portion of that outer tube. Now there are two concentric shafts, capable of rotating independently, each with an umbrella canopy, spaced about a foot apart. With a little gadgetry and gearing it would be possible to make the stacked, coaxial umbrellas spin in opposite
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F1. Naughton, Keith. The Fast and the Luxurious, Newsweek, January 13, 2003, 40. New York’s Heliports, Business & Commercial Aviation, April 2002, 86. O Donnell, Michelle. Boon or Plague, 10 More Years of Whup-Whup, New York Times, March 3, 2002, 14. Oates, Mary Louise. Madonna, Penn: Its a Glitzy Wedding, Los Angeles Times, August 17, 1985, 1. Pasternak, Judy. Ex-Guru Seeks to Expand His Heavenly Rights, Los Angeles Times, April 11, 1985, 1. ———. Maharaji Denied in Bid to Triple Copter Use, Los
supplies or airplanes. In just half a day, Armstrong-Flint crews would hack openings in the rain forest that were large enough to fit a helicopter, then build a landing platform atop the pile of wood. In Egypt, when an oil company found it impossible to operate in areas infested by mines laid during World War II, Flint brought in bomb experts who reached out from a helicopter with a mine detector to find a space big enough to put their feet upon; once on the ground they cleared a landing zone for
with horror at the sight of Garland’s parachute rising in tandem with the airman. Somehow the shrouds or harness had tangled with the rescue seat. As soon as the helicopter accelerated, the parachute canopy was going to sweep back and tangle with the tail rotor, which would send the helicopter spinning out of control. Perhaps these men were linked by telepathy, as only saved and savior can be, or perhaps not: in any case, Garland realized the problem instantly and yanked the parachute loose. His