A helicopter is an aircraft that is supported and powered by one or more horizontal rotors, each consisting of two or more blades.
The main advantage of helicopters is the rotor, which provides lift without the aircraft being moved. This allows for vertical take-offs and landings without the need for a runway. For this reason, helicopters are often used in congested or isolated areas where aircraft cannot take off or land. The rotor lift also makes it possible for the helicopter to stay in the air much more efficiently than another VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft could, and to perform tasks that a fixed-wing aircraft could not.
The first controlled vertical take-off and landing is the merit of the Argentine inventor Raúl Pateras de Pescara, who, on 21 February 1920, patented in Spain his design of a helicopter with counter-rotating blades. It was the first gyroplane capable of being controlled in flight, unlike its predecessors which were of no practical use because they suffered from vibrations and uncontrolled turns shortly after take-off. Raúl Pateras de Pescara was also a pioneer in the use of autorotation for safe landings in the event of a helicopter breakdown.
Later, the first aircraft capable of taking off, with a pre-launcher and jump technique, almost vertically and from an aircraft carrier was the gyroplane, invented by the Spanish civil engineer Juan de la Cierva, so the gyroplane was the embryo or the necessary link until reaching the helicopter and the engine transmission and collective blade control devised by Igor Sikorsky. The first helicopters paid patent and rights of use of the articulated rotor, original of the Spanish engineer. Also ideas of the Italian genius were taken from Leonardo da Vinci, but the inventor of the first piloted and motorized helicopter was the Slovak Jan Bahyl. The first fully flight controllable and chain produced aircraft was manufactured by Igor Sikorsky in 1942.
Compared to other types of aircraft such as the aeroplane, the helicopter is much more complex, has a higher cost of manufacture, use and maintenance, is relatively slow, has less flight range and lower load capacity. However, all these disadvantages are compensated by other characteristics, such as its great manoeuvrability and the ability to remain static in the air, turn around and take off and land vertically. If aspects such as refuelling possibilities or load and altitude limitations are not considered, a helicopter can travel anywhere and land anywhere that has sufficient surface area (twice that occupied by the aircraft).