(AFP) – May 14, 2008
TOKYO (AFP) — The world's smallest one-man helicopter will soon take flight in the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, who is credited with having first thought of a vertical-flight machine, its developer said.
The 75-kilogram (165-pound) helicopter will make a demonstration flight in the city of Vinci, near Florence, on May 25, according to Japanese developer Gennai Yanagisawa, 75.
"Since the concept of our helicopter came from Italy, I always wanted to take a flight in the birthplace of da Vinci," Yanagisawa said.
"I feel like I'm greeting an ancestor. I hope da Vinci would be pleased," Yanagisawa told AFP.
Yanagisawa said he went to Vinci in February and received the blessing of Mayor Dario Parrini.
The helicopter, named GEN H-4, has a set of two rotors turning in opposite directions and can fly at a maximum speed of 50 kilometres (31 miles) per hour.
Guinness World Records in February recognised it as the world's smallest helicopter that can carry a person.
Renaissance genius da Vinci was born in Vinci in 1452 and spent the first several years of his life there.
His sketch, dated in 1493 and discovered in the 19th century, shows a vertical flight machine. As in the drawing, the GEN H-4 has no tail.
Yanagisawa runs a company in Matsumoto, north of Tokyo, selling the helicopter. He has sold five units in Japan and two to US customers.
The current model is priced at six million yen (58,250 dollars).
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