World's first manned, untethered electric helicopter takes to the skies, sort of

It's an aviation story so unique we're thrilled to report on it, even a bit after the fact. Back on August 12, electrical and aerospace engineer Pascal Chretien, working with French firm Solution F, made the world's first untethered, electric manned helicopter flight. Calling it "flight" is a bit of a stretch, since Chretien only climbed about one meter high.

The helicopter is Chretien's own design that he patched together in less than 12 months. But his documented 2-minute, 10-second flight means he beat all competitors in being the first to get a manned, untethered electric helicopter off the ground.

This is an important milestone. While airplanes require juice to get moving, they can glide through the air once up to speed and suck down little power while in motion. Helicopters, on the other hand, have to work against gravity extra hard all the time. Therefore, Chretien put together a lean, efficient machine. The aluminum-framed helo features lithium-ion polymer cells, a coaxial rotor, a simple tail fin and a blade-tilting system that the pilot uses to manually pitch the blades to control the helicopter's flight. Check out Gizmag for photos and a detailed breakdown of the design and components that made this historic flight possible.

Share This Photo X