La bicyclette de vol
100 years on...
Most bike geeks know that Henry Ford built his first automobile, the Quadricycle, largely out of bike parts. Fewer, I think, realize that he wasn't alone in advancing transportation technology using bits & pieces of the humble bike. One hundred years ago this month; 13 November to be precise, a French bike builder and mechanic, Paul Cornu, launched the first ever flying bicycle.
Starting the engine on the strange twin-rotor machine, La bicyclette de vol, Cornu lifted off the ground, and fluttered above the grass in Lisieux, France for a few moments. The world's first helicopter was born.
Unfortunately, the 24-horsepower engine lacked the lift to get off ground for much longer. It also had no effective means of control and so was abandoned after a few flights. However, Cornu became the first, and perhaps only, bike-maker to achieve vertical flight with with his odd assortment of bike parts.