Visitors to the variety displays held during the 1938 Berlin Motor Show might have been forgiven for believing that the vision of the future glimpsed in the films The Shape of Things to Come and Metropolis had already arrived as they watched twenty-six-year-old Flugkapitän – Flight Captain Hanna Reitsch flying the Focke-Wulf Fw-61 helicopter inside the Deutschlandhalle. Giving demonstrations each evening for the duration of the show, she whirled the machine around the vast space, making it dance and skip amid a blizzard of flashbulbs. The audacious displays were the world’s first glimpse at the possibilities offered by the helicopter.
Such a dramatic display of technological progress was unprecedented, and the Fw-61’s appearance struck fear into the hearts of more than a few conventional aeroplane makers. Here at last was a true helicopter, of a simple and robust design, that really worked. Across the Atlantic Ocean, in…
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