Making History come to Life with Hobbies - Leonardo Da Vinci Part 1

Posted by Hobbies | Saturday, May 18, 2013

Leonardo's Airscrew Helicopter

Leonardo da Vinci's aerial screw is arguably one of his greatest designs. Working similarly to a modern helicopter, this flying machine looks a lot like a giant whirling pinwheel.

In his notebook Da Vinci wrote next to his sketches the following description: "If this instrument made with a screw be well made – that is to say, made of linen of which the pores are stopped up with starch and be turned swiftly, the said screw will make its spiral in the air and it will rise high."

Also known as the "Helical Air Screw" or simply the "airscrew", the device was designed to compress air to obtain flight – similar to today’s helicopters.


Da Vinci’s helicopter measured more than 15 feet in diameter and was made from reed, linen and wire. It was to be powered by four men standing on a central platform turning cranks to rotate the shaft. With enough rotation, Da Vinci believed the invention would lift off the ground.

Unfortunately, due to weight constrictions, modern scientists do not believe da Vinci’s invention would have been able to take flight. However, his theory for "compressing" the air to obtain lift was substantially similiar to that for today’s helicopters.


This wooden model kit made by Revell allows hobbyists and students the opportunity to build a 1/48th scale replica of Da Vinci's inspired design.