The first helicopter took off in 1938 thanks to the efforts of Igor Sikorsky. Yet, the concept of a vertical flying machine is first mentioned in Chinese literature in 400BC, and again in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci dated 1481.
Since then, helicopters have spread across the globe and become a useful tool for mankind in business, leisure, and even life-saving services.
Nowadays, everyone’s familiar with these useful flying machines but did you can still impress your friends and family with these interesting facts about helicopters.
1. Helicopters are Machines of Many Names
The word helicopter is a combination of two Greek words, namely ‘helix’ and ‘pteron’, meaning ‘spiral’ and ‘wing’ respectively.
Over the years, this aircraft’s inherited various nicknames too. These are some of the most common ones:
The Army, navy, and airforce also have their own names for helicopters, with the most common one being ‘helo’.
2. Record-Breaking Facts About Helicopters
In general, helicopters excel at short-distance, low-flying missions, but some types of helicopters go the literal extra mile.
The Sikorsky X2 can travel at up to 259 mph, while the largest helicopter can remain airborne for over 600 miles. The world’s biggest helicopter, the Mi-26, seats up to 80 people.
The highest recorded flight for a helicopter was 40,820 feet in 1972 and Everest helicopters regularly fly up to the 29,000 ft summit of the world’s highest mountain.
3. You Can Break Out of Prison in a Helicopter
One of the most interesting helicopter facts is that inmates have used them to escape on a few occasions.
The best-known of these stories concerns a French woman who learned how to fly a chopper. She then rented one and picked up her bank-robber husband off the prison roof.
In 1971, Joel David Kaplan escaped from Santa Martha Acatitla in a helicopter and made it across the border to his home in New York.
4. Helicopters Are Great in an Emergency
Helicopters can access places where people on foot and airplanes can’t go. They’re great for fighting forest fires and often used to rescue climbers from great heights.
Medical rescue services also use these speedy machines to get people to the hospital quickly in emergencies.
5. Helicopters Are Great For Aerial Photography
There’s nothing quite like the agility of a chopper for capturing dramatic shots. Aerial photography and cinematography provide stunning views over the countryside and are sometimes used by realtors to show off properties for sale.
For big-budget tourists, a helicopter flip’s a great way to admire the scenery from a different angle, but you don’t need to have millions in the bank to afford this luxury. According to Ultimate Helitours, you can also customize a tour to suit your budget.
6. Territorial Birds Dislike Helicopters
Some types of birds don’t like any intrusion on their airspace. Large eagles find helicopters particularly annoying and will attack small planes and helicopters.
The Australian wedge-tailed eagle is very aggressive and often caught on camera trying to take down a helicopter.
7. Helicopters are Safer Than Planes
While most people love flying in a helicopter, others find them terrifying. The aircraft shakes a lot and produces a lot of noise while in flight, which is what puts most people off.
There’s no reason for concern when you head up in a helicopter though. Helicopters have an excellent safety record and can even land safely if the engine fails.
8. Helicopters are More Common Than You Think
The United States has more helicopters than any other country in the world. Most of these are heavily armed military choppers.
There are over 360,000 helicopters found in every country of the world today and NASA even plans to send one to Mars.
9. Almost Anyone Can Fly a Chopper
Although some of the best helicopter pilots receive their training in the military, anyone can learn to fly a chopper.
You only need to log 40 hours of flight time to get your private pilot’s license but commercial helicopter pilots must accumulate 1,200 hours of practice.
Prince William has a helicopter pilot’s license and there are over 2,000 female pilots registered with the Whirly-Girls association.
10. One Nut Can Ruin a Flight
The success of every helicopter flight depends on one element. The Jesus Nut is what keeps the blades from spinning loose while they’re whirring around.
It’s get’s its name from the recommendation that if anything goes wrong with this piece of equipment, praying to Jesus is the only thing that might save you.
11. Fun Helicopter Facts
Fun facts about helicopters make interesting dinner conversation and might just seal your victory in a general knowledge quiz. Here are some more gems to commit to your memory banks.
Helicopters can’t fly in heavy rain or the dark, although they can travel in any direction in ideal conditions.
The Spirit of Texas completed a flight around the circumference of the Earth in just over 246 hours.
The only recorded instance of an air-to-air helicopter battle took place during the Iran-Iraq War.
One the day of his wedding in Hawaii, Bill Gates chartered every helicopter in the vicinity and grounded them for the duration of the event.
In 1975, the US Navy pushed $10 million worth of helicopter off the deck of the USS Midway to make space for an emergency airplane landing.
The Coast Guard sometimes uses trained pigeons to help them located people lost at sea. The birds sit in a dome on top of a chopper and press a lever when they spot clues. So far these birds have a 90% success rate.
More of the Good Stuff
Whether you’re engaged in obtaining your helicopter license or simply passionate about everything airborne, these facts about helicopters are bound to come in handy someday.
Are you keen to learn more interesting things? Keep browsing our blog for more.