Today in Transportation History – 1924: A New Distance Record for Helicopters

Engineer and helicopter designer Étienne Edmond Oehmichen established a new aviation record in his native France. He did so by flying his helicopter Oehmichen No. 2, which he had designed and built a couple of years earlier, around a triangular closed circuit of approximately six-tenths of a mile. This flight took seven minutes and 40 seconds, and it marked a new distance record for helicopters. A number of people, including members of the press and officials from the French air ministry, were on hand to witness the flight.

Oemichen2The Oehmichen No. 2 aircraft had small vertically mounted rotors that rotated in the opposite direction from large lifting rotors likewise installed on the helicopter. This design helped make the Oehmichen No. 2 one of the first helicopters to reliably and safely transport a person into the air during untethered flights.

About four months after his May 4 achievement, Oehmichen set an altitude record for helicopters when he flew more than three feet off the ground and remained aloft there for a minute with 441-pound cargo in the aircraft. In 1931, he invented and tested another type of airborne transportation: a blimp that he named the Hélicostat. With four movable propellers controlling it, the blimp could take off, hover, and land without any assistance from a ground crew. Oehmichen was also a biologist. His specialty was the study of insect wing function, particularly in dragonflies.

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