The creation of the propeller can be traced back to Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci’s “helical screw” helicopter is believed to be the ancestor of the air propeller and the helicopter rotor. The first idea of a propulsive airscrew, however, belongs to J.P. Paucton, a French mathematician. Paucton envisioned a flying machine that had two airscrews, one for propulsion and the other for sustaining flight. The idea of using an airscrew for propulsion was utilized during the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. Only after experimentation did the inventors conclude that more propulsive power could be obtained by merely straightening out the surface of the airscrew blades. Attempts to utilize the “straight blade” propeller were made by balloonists. These contraptions were quite strange and hardly fulfilled their purpose of actually propelling the balloon. The basic propeller had evolved from the simple concepts of da Vinci, and was slowly becoming an effective means of aerial propulsion. To reach the next plateau of flight an increased knowledge of the propeller would be needed, and the mysteries of the propeller and mechanical power would need to be solved. These substantial tasks remained for aviation’s pioneers to tackle during the 19th century. Throughout the 19th century, aviation pioneers explored and tinkered with the concepts of flight to design a viable airship. Some pioneers tried to transform the balloons into navigable cigar shaped airships by experimenting with sails, propellers, and paddlewheels but all produced limited results. Other experimenters, who were convinced... [continues]
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