The Claims

Cornu’s claims become questionable because the helicopter’s engine and rotors as described by Cornu did not have sufficient lift to make even a tentative hop.  This circumstance is further compounded by a lack of documentary evidence that it flew.  Cornu made a series of public claims about the performance of the machine, particularly in November 1907. 

While Cornu clearly showed his machine off to the public and “demonstrated” it, independent observations have not emerged to clarify whether it was tethered and whether it actually lifted anyone or simply its own weight.  Given the lack of conclusive evidence, the apparent contradiction between Cornu’s claims of being lifted by the helicopter and the laws of aerodynamics as applied to his own description of the helicopter make any pronouncement of this effort as the first successful helicopter flight highly problematic.  

French Article Image
english translation
Les Helicopteres
By Paul Cornu 1908
The Helicopters
By Paul Cornu 1908