The first reference to a rotor system is credited to inventor Leonardo da Vinci, who designed an ‘aerial screw’ in 1480. No full-scale variant was constructed during his lifetime.
The word ‘helicopter’ was coined by French inventor Gustave de Ponton d’Amécourt, who used it to name his small, steam-powered rotorcraft.
The first helicopter to achieve completely untethered flight was the Cornu in 1907, which managed to hover one foot above the ground for 20 seconds.
The record for the fastest helicopter in the world is held by the Sikorsky X2 which, during a flyby over Florida, United States, clocked 258mph (416kph).
The current world record speed for an eastbound round-the-world helicopter trip is 85 mph (137 kph). The record was set by Edward Kasprowicz in an Augusta A109S Grand.