The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

George de Bothezat

14.04.2020
George de Bothezat

George de Bothezat

(1882 – 1940)

An aircraft designer, scientist, inventor and mathematician. He built one of the first helicopters ever constructed.

He was born in 1882 into a noble family. He graduated from the School of Exact Sciences in Kishinev with the following studies of mechanical engineering at the Kharkov Polytechnic Institute, and Montefiore Electro-Technical Institute in Liege, Belgium, which he graduated as an electrical field engineer.

During WWI he worked as an expert in different military-technical institutions.

In May 1918 he received an invitation to work in the US and left Petrograd. With the help from the American office, he approached Murmansk and left Russia illegally. Later that month he got to the United States.

In 1921 the Congress allocated 200,000 dollars, a huge sum at the time, to construct a prototype helicopter (the annual salary of de Bothezat amounted to the incredible sum of $10,000).

In 1922 de Bothezat designed the quadrotor helicopter. The machine weighing 1,600 kg (thanks to the aluminum frame), with the 170-hp engine, and capable to carry three passengers (its carrying capacity was unrivaled until the beginning of 1940s) could successfully raise into the air several meters high and was easily controlled. It was the first helicopter of the US Air Forces and the first helicopter that had a successful guided flight. Within 2 years the helicopter made over 100 flights. However, American military officers preferred not to finance the helicopter projects any longer, as they believed it was too early to organize mass production of helicopters.

In terms of science, in addition to research focused on airplanes and helicopters, de Bothezat studied flight trajectories in the airspace and air-free space. For instance, he calculated the trajectory for the flight to the Moon. Later it was used for “Apollo” project.

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