The Cierva Autogiro C6D, c 1926.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model (scale 1:10). In an attempt to make flying safer at take-off and landing, the Spaniard Juan de la Cierva (1895-1936) developed the 'gyroplane', in which the lift is achieved by a free spinning rotor. The autogiro, predecesor to the true helicopter, was first demonstrated in 1926. After a career devoted to making a reliable gyroplane, Cierva died in a fixed-wing aircraft which crashed upon take-off.