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Re: QI mentions a Chinese "helicopter"

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  • srmalloy
    ... Wikipedia sometimes setting new standards for questionable source ... I found another citation, with a reference that may or may not be relevant:
    Message 1 of 8 , Sep 12, 2009
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      --- In sca-jml@yahoogroups.com, sekinakagawa@... wrote:>
      > Knowing how unreliable some sources are the only thing I could find was this.
      >
      > _http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo-copter_
      > (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo-copter)
      >
      > It even shows some pictures. It's a start.

      Wikipedia sometimes setting new standards for 'questionable source'...

      I found another citation, with a reference that may or may not be relevant: http://www.helis.com/pioneers/

      "The first concept of rotary wing aviation came from the Chinese in the fourth century A.D.

      "A book called "Pao Phu Tau" tells of the "Master" describing flying cars (fei chhe) with wood from the inner part of the jujube tree with ox-leather straps fastened to returning blades as to set the machine in motion (huan chien i yih chhi chi). This is the first recorded pattern of what we might understand as a helicopter."

      There is also the entry in the timeline below the reference above, with no trace of any citation:

      "400 BC : Chinese tops A toy, consisted of feathers at the end of a stick, which was rapidly spun between the hands to generate lift and then released into free flight. These toys were probably inspired by observations of the autorotating seeds of trees such as the Sycamore."

      This is different from the carved-wood designs of the Wikipedia reference, but it seems to me that a pair of feathers tied firmly to a stick would be the kind of toy a peasant could make for their child, with the more complex wooden designs being "upscale" versions. But it's still nowhere near an authoritative source.

      The Wikipedia article on helicopters, however, has an actual reference for the 400BC date -- "Leishman, J. Gordon. Principles of Helicopter Aerodynamics. Cambridge aerospace series, 18. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 9780521858601" -- instead of just references to other web pages (of which it has two, one to http://www.vectorsite.net/avheli_1.html#m1 and the other to http://www.aerospaceweb.org/design/helicopter/history.shtml , neither of which cite any references).
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