November 2004

The Fairey Rotodyne - technology before its time?

Volume: 108
Number: 1089

D Gibbings

Abstract :

THE LEGACY OF JUAN DE LA CIERVA It cannot have escaped notice, that in two months time we will celebrate the centenary of the first flight of a powered aircraft carrying a man. We rightfully acclaim ‘The miracle at Kitty Hawk’ for all that it has meant to our chosen profession, albeit outside our remit as a rotorcraft section. There is however a significant 80th anniversary, which we can add to this centenary year. On 9 January 1923, a Cierva C-4 autogyro piloted by Lt Alejandro Gomez Spencer made an officially observed circular flight of over 4km (2⋅5 miles) in Madrid. This important event brought the name of Juan de la Cierva to the fore on the International scene, and was subsequently to prove to be the key to the modern helicopter, an interesting lesson in technology in that, Cierva never set out to invent the helicopter, and never produced one himself.

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