Although developed after the airplane, the helicopter grew out of an idea that is several hundred years old. In the late Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci drew up a plan for such a flying machine. He made the first sketch of the helicopter with a brief description in 1489.
Three hundred years after Leonardo Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov built the first model of the helicopter. It consisted of a fuselage and two screws rotate in opposite directions.
In the early 20th century experiments with vertical flight failed for lack of a powerful enough engine.
A French engineer named Paul Cornu designed and built a workable helicopter in 1907. It was powered by a 24-horsepower engine and actually flew for a few minutes. As a prototype it was interesting, but the design proved impractical, in subsequent years numerous other designers built helicopter-like machines. Some never got beyond the planning stage, while others flew for short periods.