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A helicopter is an aircraft that is lifted and propelled by one or more horizontal rotors, each rotor consisting of two or more rotor blades. Helicopters are classified as rotorcraft or rotary-wing aircraft to distinguish them from fixed-wing aircraft, because the helicopter derives its source of lift from the rotor blades rotating around a mast. The word “helicopter” is adapted from the French hélicoptère, coined by Gustave de Ponton d’Amécourt in 1861. It is linked to the Greek words helix/helikos (“spiral” or “turning”) and pteron (“wing”).
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This section is based on the FAA Helicopter Flying Handbook FAA-H-8083-21B 2019.