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The First Helicopter

Do you know who invented the helicopter? It was no one else than a Slovak engineer and inventor Jan Bahyl.


Jan was born in 1856 in the Austrian Empire to a poor evangelic family. He loved flying and excelled in drawing since childhood.

He was interested in army science, engineering and mechanical engineering. He came up with numerous ideas and improvements for artillery technique and railway transport that are used even today.  


In 1894 Jan came up with an idea of the helicopter powered by human force. This didn’t work as he expected, but Jan wouldn’t give up.

In March of 1895, he brought from Vienna to Bratislava a machine construction with two counter-rotating four-bladed propellers. He received a patent signed by Franz Josef I. emperor of the Austrian Empire.


He was offered a job in 1900 by Anton Marschall in a factory for wagons and carriages. This man aided him financially, and Jan built his first working helicopter, AVION. This helicopter was 6,5 m long, obtained four wheels and was constructed of metal tubes with a diameter of 90 mm.  

The first flying attempt occurred on 5 May 1905 in Bratislava. The AVION took off to an altitude of 4 m and flew roughly 1500 m.

It was proved that Jan’s AVION obtained a patent document (number 34 770) in 1906 in Budapest.


Jan is an extraordinary example of how crucial persistence and passion are in creation. Small country or not well-situated family shouldn’t be the stoppers for us.






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