Paul Cornu (June 15, 1881 – 6 June 1944) was a French engineer.
French engineer Paul Cornu made history by designing the world's first manned rotary wing aircraft. It was powered by a 24 horsepower (18 kW) Antoinette engine. He piloted this construction himself at Normandy, France on November 13, 1907. Previously, a French helicopter, the Breguet-Richet Gyroplane I, had managed to lift off by its own power, but it had been held in position by men standing on the ground. Cornu's performance was a considerable progress because his aircraft flew without additional support and lifted Cornu for 20 seconds about 30 cm (1 ft). Unfortunately this early helicopter was scarcely maneuverable and had only a few additional flights. The construction wasn't much further developed by this technical pioneer, who had to keep on making a living on manufacturing bicycles.
Paul Cornu died in 1944 in Lisieux -France, when his home was destroyed during the bombardment that accompanied the Normandy landings.
- Gibbs-Smith, Charles H. (3 Apr 1959). "Hops and Flights: A roll call of early powered take-offs". Flight 75 (2619): 470. Retrieved 24 Aug 2013.