Powers helicopter


Captain Powers was inspired to invent his flying machine by the Union blockade of Confederate ports. He thought of it as a wonderful means to get around the Union Navy which was preventing the import of badly needed war supplies. In addition, he also saw his invention as an excellent device for observation and reconnaissance work. It was a crude-looking machine and had hardly any resemblance to an aircraft. The helicopter had two rotor units in the form of spiralling screws which were supposed to lift the craft vertically, and a series of similar units on the sides for propelling it through the skies. Presumably a steam engine was to be the power source.

The Confederate officer's helicopter design is a comparatively recent discovery. It is said that he never tried to build a full-scale model of his flying machine because he was afraid it might fall into Union hands and be used against the Southerners. He need not have troubled himself with this thought. According to aviation authorities, his helicopter never would have left the ground under any circumstances.

Frank Ross Jr. "Flying Windmills", 1953