Helicopters come in many different sizes and can perform many different tasks. Although we see helicopters being used by the news stations and police departments, they are also used today by the United States Army. The helicopters that we see every day are very small compared to those that are used in the Army. It is their ability to fly vertically that makes them different from other aircraft.
Of all the amazing things about helicopters, one of the most amazing is that it was invented by a kid! Igor Sikorsky thought of the idea and made models of helicopters when he was still in grade school in Russia. Igor was known throughout Russia and the world for designing and flying the first multi-engine airplane. Igor came to the United States during the Russian Revolution to continue his work with aircraft. He built airplanes that set many records for how fast they could fly, how far they could fly, and how much of a payload they could carry. After many successes, Igor began to work on the helicopter again and got his first patent for one in 1931. Finally in 1939, Igor began building his first helicopter. It was finished and was flown on September 14, 1939.
Benefits of Helicopters
A helicopter can perform many things that airplanes cannot. They have a big advantage over an airplane, especially when people might be trapped in a tight place like on a mountain where there is not a lot of space to land or on the water. They are also used for rescuing people from burning buildings, from trees when there are floods, or lifting them off of the decks of sinking ships. The reason that the helicopter can do these tasks better than an airplane is because helicopters can take off and land vertically instead of needing to go horizontally and have the room to take off. Unlike airplanes, helicopters are able to hover. Being able to hover allows them to rescue people easier. Without the helicopter as a rescue vehicle, many people would lose their lives because the rescuers would be unable to reach them if they were in a difficult area. Helicopters are also used by news stations which allows them to report the news and traffic as itís happening.
Helicopters in the Armed Forces
Helicopters are also used in the United States Armed Forces. This is where helicopters are used the most. The reason for this is that helicopters can maneuver around in small spaces. In the Army they use the helicopter for things like transporting troops to battle sites or for transporting injured soldiers back to hospitals. Helicopters were first used in large numbers during the Korean War, mostly for getting injured soldiers away from the battlefield to the hospitals. During the Vietnam War they were used in combat as well. They could provide additional support to the ground troops, and some even fired wire-guided or laser-guided missiles. In the Navy, helicopters are often used to rescue pilots that have been shot down from the sea.
Even though helicopters arenít as fast as the airplane, they are much more useful when it comes to tight spaces and being able to make short, fast landings and take-offs.
How Helicopters Work
Helicopters produce thrust from the blades rotating above the body of the aircraft. As the blades rotate, airflow is created over the blades, and that causes the lift, which raises the helicopter upward. The rotator blades can be controlled to make the helicopter go forward, backward, or sideways. You might think that it is hard to fly a helicopter, but it really is not that hard. The way it is controlled is by changing the angle of the rotor blades. The way the helicopter pilot does this is by using the pitch stick and the pedal switch rudders. The pitch stick is for changing the angle of the rotor blades which moves the helicopter in all directions. The rudder pedal turns a rudder to the right or left, depending on which way he is trying to turn. If you did not have the rudder, your turns would always be very wide.
In order to turn the helicopter you need to have enough thrust on the opposite side of the direction you are turning. The reason for this is that if you donít have enough thrust the turns would take a really long time, and you would be going slow so the helicopter would start to go downward. If the helicopter went down while you were turning, you would start to spin out. If this were to happen the pilot could switch to autorotation. Autorotation is an unpowered rotation of the rotor blades. This allows the pilot to regain control without worrying about the speed of the helicopter. The way it works is the pilot switches the autorotation on, and then he only has to steer since the blades are still moving, keeping the helicopter in the air. This safety feature allows the pilot to have limited control of the vehicle during an emergency landing.
Disadvantages of Helicopters
Although the helicopter is used for a lot of things, it cannot be used for everything. The reason for this is that airplanes can do some things better than helicopters. One of the areas that airplanes have an advantage is speed. The reason for this is helicopters donít have as powerful of an engine as the airplane does. Airplanes can travel longer distances than helicopters. The reason for this is that helicopters have to produce both lift and thrust which makes the helicopter have to do more work compared to airplanes, and it uses up fuel faster than an airplane would.
Aircraft engineers continue to work on improving the design of the helicopter to make it a more effective aircraft for the military. They developed a helicopter called the RAH-66 Comanche, which was designed to be less visible to the enemiesí radar and could carry weapons inside instead of outside. The helicopter also is being used more and more for use in our everyday lives. More police departments, hospitals, and emergency medical services have helicopters to assist them in saving lives. The way that the helicopter flies and moves vertically has made it an important aircraft used in our world today.
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