A Complete Design?

If Cornu's claims are taken unquestioningly, the historical significance of the flight of his 1907 flight is still problematic in the context of being a significant first. Without Cornu Designeffective means of stability control of propulsion, the craft was ultimately much more of a rotor test stand than a true helicopter. The Wright's 1903 Flyer has been celebrated not simply because it achieved a relatively short hop, but also because it incorporated all of the rudiments necessary for viable airplanes in terms of lift propulsion stability and control. The Wright brothers followed this achievement with more practical forms and thus receive credit for achieving flight AND bringing it to a practical form (though not necessarily in the same aircraft).

Though Cornu’s legacy as a rotary wing pioneer clearly deserves closer examination and there is no disputing that he constructed one of the most well-conceived designs of this early period, claims that he is the rotary wing corollary to the Wright brothers and November 13, 2007 is the “Centennial of the Helicopter” have to be considered as unduly overenthusiastic.