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Les Incroyables Machines volantes du professeur Oehmichen
Stéphane Bégoin
2009 - 52 min - HDCam - France

At the beginning of the 20th century, European and American inventors were engaged in an extraordinary race to build the first working helicopter.
However, numerous setbacks and disasters made it clear that the time was not ripe for success.
Renewed enthusiasm in the early 1920s encouraged several aviation pioneers to take up the gauntlet once again.
The Americans, represented by Berliner and Bothezat and backed by the US Army, tested a number of ideas for innovative flying devices. In Europe, two determined inventors competed for success: Pescara of Spain, and the Frenchman, Etienne Oehmichen.
Between them they broke record after record. However, the greatest accolade went to the Frenchman when his craft succeeded in flying one kilometre in a closed circuit.
Oehmichen’s victory in the race to build a viable helicopter was due to a groundbreaking idea. Indeed, while his competitors called on technology to provide the answers, Oehmichen looked to the animal world for solutions by building special cameras to record the flight of birds and insects. These photos helped him identify the key movements needed for helicopter flight. And in 1924, he triumphed.
Today, aeronautical laboratories all over the world are taking the ideas of the early pioneers yet another step further. Scientists are developing small flying robots designed to fly autonomously. These micro-drones and nano-drones are tiny helicopters; some are so small that they could easily be mistaken for insects!
However, modern scientists are having to pit themselves against the same problems encountered by Etienne Oehmichen. Following his lead, today’s innovators are looking to insects such as the dragonfly to help them understand the intricacies and efficiency of animal flight.
Will their work finally consecrate the genius of Oehmichen?
And is it really just a matter of time before we unlock the mysteries of the dragonfly’s flight?

Author-Director : Stéphane Bégoin
Author : Thierry Zirnheld
Delegate Producer : Sombrero and Co
Co-producer : Flight Productions


Distributor : Sombrero and Co
VOD : Arte VOD
Disponible au Club du doc