Paul Cornu (June 15, 1881 – 6 June 1944) was a French engineer.
French engineer Paul Cornu made history by designing the world's first successful manned rotary wing aircraft.
Cornu first built an unmanned experimental design powered by a 2 hp Buchet engine.
His manned helicopter 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 under 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 about 30 cm (1 ft) for 20 seconds . Unfortunately this early helicopter was scarcely maneuverable and had only a few additional flights. The construction was not much further developed by this technical pioneer, who had to keep on making a living by manufacturing bicycles.
Paul Cornu died in 1944 in Lisieux -France, when his home was destroyed during the bombardent that accompanied the landings of WW2.
- "Hélicoptère Cornu et fils à Propulseur Spécial". L'Aérophile (in French): 146. June 1906.
- 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.