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A Brief History of Helicopters

A Brief History of Helicopters

Since the beginning of time, humans have been fascinated by the concept of flight. After all, the ability to quickly get from one place to another is the ultimate convenience, and the beauty of an aerial view of their favorite city is something that everyone should experience at least once in life. Now that helicopters have advanced to the point that tourists can climb on board and take a helicopter tour, we thought it would be fun to look back at how the ability to fly vertically has changed from what seemed like an impossible concept to the incredible aircrafts that we have today.

Genius Found In a Child’s Toy

Although helicopters are a modern invention, their concept can be traced far back to some of our earliest ancestors. Historians have found evidence of a toy that children in China used that dates back to 400 B.C. This toy used bamboo sticks that would fly through the air after the children set them into a spin in a way that is similar to modern propellers. The popularity of this toy still exists today, although modern children use a model that is made from plastic and rubber bands.

Da Vinci’s Conception of the Future

Leonardo da Vinci is known for his inventions, and he holds the credit for getting one of the earliest concepts of vertical flight on to paper. His drawing depicts an aircraft with a screw-like structure on top that was to be made from starched linen and wood. In his notes, he describes the plan for the structure to be turned by four men, and he believed that the shape of the sails combined with the stiffness of the starched linen would be enough to get it to lift vertically from the ground. While his invention that is often referred to as the air screw was never tested, scientists believe that it would have been too heavy to lift off. However, similarities between da Vinci’s concept and the modern propellor are evident in their designs.

Brilliant Minds in a Race Toward Flight

There are several people credited with the creation of rudimentary versions of helicopters who deserve to be mentioned. Sir George Cayley developed the first steam powered helicopter, but it was too bulky and heavy to be practical for actual use. Paul Cornu designed an early model of a helicopter that actually made it off the ground in 1907, but it was tethered so it did not get credit for being the first free flight. In 1939, we finally see a helicopter that works more like the ones that our customers ride in during our NYC helicopter tours. This one was designed by Igor Sikorsky, and it spawned a new generation of helicopters that continue to advance in their technology today.

It’s fascinating to think that helicopters have evolved from simple toys and drawings to the complex aircrafts that we have today. As you learn more about the history of helicopters, keep in mind that our tour guides love to share their knowledge, so please feel free to bring your questions to your helicopter tour of New York City!


How Does a Helicopter Work

How Does a Helicopter Work

Watching a helicopter take off and land is always intriguing. After all, it seems as though the gravity defying mechanisms of the helicopter work just like magic, and it is true that every aircraft is made with an emphasis on perfection. Although helicopters have gone through a series of transformations over the years, the basic fundamentals of how they fly have stayed much the same. As you get ready to board your next helicopter tour, be ready to impress your fellow passengers with this information about how these incredible aircrafts work.

How Helicopters Achieve a Vertical Lift

The most obvious difference between a helicopter and an airplane is the ability to fly vertically, which is one of the reasons why helicopter charter residents are able to depart quickly from the heliport whenever the need arises. In most cases, the lift for an aircraft is created with its wings. For a helicopter, a lift is generated by the way the main rotor blades are formed so the air is pushed in a downward movement when the blades spin. As the air pressure changes, the helicopter lifts up. The high rate of speed that must occur for the blades to generate this reaction is why you must always follow the safety protocols for entering and exiting the helicopter on your tour around NYC.

The Role of the Second or Tail Rotor

Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and this concept is evident in the design of helicopters. As the rotors spin with great force, it affects the stability of the entire helicopter and causes it to want to spin in the opposite direction. For this reason, a second large rotor or tail rotor is added to the helicopter that serves as a counter balance. In addition to helping to keep the helicopter steady, this secondary rotor also plays a role in how the helicopter is steered during an on air tour.

How Pilots Control the Helicopter

Pilots learn how to control the helicopter by altering the angle and speed of the rotors by using hand levers, foot pedals and a throttle. To hover, the pilot must balance the weight of the helicopter with the amount of force generated by the lift. This is done by altering the angle at which the blades are at as they hit the oncoming air during the spins. Helicopters can also be steered to go backwards and sideways as well as forwards. To do these types of movements, the pilot uses special levers. For instance, the cyclic pitch changes the angle of the main rotor blades so that the helicopter moves sideways.

Helicopters are one of the most beneficial inventions of modern times, and their use ranges from complicated military maneuvers to tourist adventures in the big city. Whether you are enjoying a short tour or chartering to a special destination, knowing how your helicopter works allows you to enjoy a deeper appreciation of the moment.


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Thank you




All NYC helicopter tours are cancelled today Thursday January 4th 2018 due to SNOW STORM.  We will be calling and emailing all guests who are scheduled today to reschedule for tomorrow or beyond. 

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience and cooperation.  If we missed you please call 1-800-542-9933 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reschedule

Stay Safe!

.~Team Liberty~


Closed Today 12/9 DUE TO WEATHER

Closed Today 12/9 DUE TO  WEATHER

NYC Helicopter tours cancelled today 12/9/17 due to impending snow storm.  Please call 1-800-542-9933 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to re-schedule your tour.

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your cooperation

~Team Liberty~

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