Raoul Hafner
Raoul Hafner, was an Austrian-born
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

 pioneer and engineer.

Raoul Hafner, FEng
Feng is a Chinese surname. It is reported as the 31st most common Chinese last name in 2006. The character itself, is made up of the character for "Horse" with an ice radical consisting of two strokes to the left that is meant to suggest speed or galloping.- Historical roots :The surname descended...

, FRAes
Royal Aeronautical Society
The Royal Aeronautical Society, also known as the RAeS, is a multidisciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community.-Function:...

, a pioneer of rotating wing aircraft design, died as a result of a yacht
A yacht is a recreational boat or ship. The term originated from the Dutch Jacht meaning "hunt". It was originally defined as a light fast sailing vessel used by the Dutch navy to pursue pirates and other transgressors around and into the shallow waters of the Low Countries...

ing accident, was an Austrian who made a distinctive contribution to the British aerospace
Aerospace comprises the atmosphere of Earth and surrounding space. Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space...

 industry, particularly the development of helicopters.


Born in 1905, he was educated in Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, first at the university and then at technical college where he became interested in rotary-wing concept as a means of making aircraft land more slowly and safely. He obtained a post with the Austrian Air Traffic Company, but his heart was in helicopter design, to which he devoted his spare time, developing the R (Revoplane) 1 and R2.

Subsequently, he gave up his job to concentrate on helicopters, building the R2 in 1929 and planning the R3. But instead of constructing the latter, he decided, after hearing of the work of the Spanish pioneer Juan de la Cierva
Juan de la Cierva
Juan de la Cierva y Codorníu, 1st Count of De La Cierva was a Spanish civil engineer, pilot and aeronuatical engineer. His most famous accomplishment was the invention in 1920 of the Autogiro, a single-rotor type of aircraft that came to be called autogyro in the English language...

 in England, to design an autogyro
An autogyro , also known as gyroplane, gyrocopter, or rotaplane, is a type of rotorcraft which uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust...

 incorporating the principles of the R1 and R2.

The Scottish cotton millionaire Major Jack Coates, who had financed Hafner’s work in Vienna, had the R2 shipped to Heston Aerodrome
Heston Aerodrome
Heston Aerodrome was a 1930s airfield located to the west of London, UK, operational between 1929 and 1947. It was situated on the border of the Heston and Cranford areas of Hounslow, Middlesex...

 in 1933, and Hafner himself made contact with the Cierva Company
Cierva Autogiro Company
The Cierva Autogiro Company was a British developer of autogyros established in 1926.It was set up to further the designs of Juan de la Cierva with the financial backing of James George Weir, a Scottish industrialist and aviator.-History:...

 and learned to fly its C.19
Cierva C.19
The Cierva C.19 was an autogyro designed by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva in England in 1929 and built by Avro which designated it their Type 620...

 and C.30 autogyros. He parted company with Nagler who had come from Austria with him and concentrated on gyroplane design over helicopters. Then in 1934 his own company, the ARIII Construction (Hafner Gyroplane) Co, began to design the ARIII Gyroplane, first flown in 1935 and later widely demonstrated. It incorporated the then new principles of cyclic and collective pitch controls.

In an ensuing controversy between proponents of the autogyro and of the helicopter, Hafner made his views clear in a Royal Aeronautical Society
Royal Aeronautical Society
The Royal Aeronautical Society, also known as the RAeS, is a multidisciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community.-Function:...

 lecture on October 14, 1937, when he advocated the rotating wing concept.

Second World War

From 1938 he was with Pobjoy
Pobjoy Airmotors
Pobjoy Airmotors and Aircraft was a British manufacturer of small aircraft engines. The company was purchased by Short Brothers shortly before the start of World War II, production continuing until the end of the war.-History:...

Short Brothers
Short Brothers plc is a British aerospace company, usually referred to simply as Shorts, that is now based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Founded in 1908, Shorts was the first company in the world to make production aircraft and was a manufacturer of flying boats during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s...

 at Rochester, but in 1940 was interned
Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place." Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction...

 as an enemy alien, being released when his naturalization came through. He then developed the Rotachute, a rotary parachute to be towed behind an aircraft, for landing agents in enemy territory; this was made and tested at the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment development section at Sherburn-in-Elmet
Sherburn-in-Elmet is a town and civil parish in the Selby district of North Yorkshire, England, situated close to Selby. It is one of only three places in the area to be explicitly associated with the ancient Celtic kingdom of Elmet via featuring the kingdom's title in its name, the others being...

. This was followed by the Rotabuggy, a rotor-equipped jeep
Willys MB
The Willys MB US Army Jeep and the Ford GPW, were manufactured from 1941 to 1945. These small four-wheel drive utility vehicles are considered the iconic World War II Jeep, and inspired many similar light utility vehicles. Over the years, the World War II Jeep later evolved into the "CJ" civilian...

. Neither project progressed past testing.

Post War

It was after the war that he and some of his technical team joined tBristol
Bristol Aeroplane Company
The Bristol Aeroplane Company, originally the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, was both one of the first and one of the most important British aviation companies, designing and manufacturing both airframes and aero engines...

, Hafner becoming Chief Designer (Helicopters) and its helicopter department initially producing the four/five seater Type 171
Bristol Sycamore
-See also:-External links:* on the Bristol Sycamore* on the Bristol Sycamore*...

, which went into Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 service as the Sycamore and won several export orders. Subsequently a much larger tandem-rotor helicopter, the Type 173
Bristol Type 173

, was developed; and on it was based the Type 192
Bristol Belvedere
The Bristol Type 192 Belvedere is a British twin-engine, tandem rotor military helicopter built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company. It was designed for a variety of transport roles including troop transport, supply dropping and casualty evacuation...

 which as the "Belvedere" (named after the Belvedere Palace
Belvedere (palace)
The Belvedere is a historical building complex in Vienna, Austria, consisting of two Baroque palaces the Upper and Lower Belvedere, the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape in the 3rd district of the city, south-east of its centre. It houses the...

 in Vienna next to Hafner’s childhood home, which inspired the tandem concept) saw service in RAF squadrons in Britain and overseas.

Hafner, however, was more interested in the civil than the military applications of the helicopter, and this long-term ambition was to see the convertible rotor concept – on which he had begun work in 1950 – accepted. One of the helicopters being developed at Bristol was the tandem-rotor Type 194, designed to carry 52 passengers, but work on this ended when all British helicopter activities were brought together under Westland Aircraft
Westland Aircraft
Westland Aircraft was a British aircraft manufacturer located in Yeovil in Somerset. Formed as a separate company by separation from Petters Ltd just before the start of the Second World War, Westland had been building aircraft since 1915...

 in 1960.

Hafner was appointed technical director, holding this position until his retirement in 1970, and thereafter continuing in a consultative capacity. During his decade with Westland he further propounded his convertible rotor ideas, as a means of increasing the helicopters range and speed by tilting its rotors for forward flight.

He presented several papers to the Royal Aeronautical Society
Royal Aeronautical Society
The Royal Aeronautical Society, also known as the RAeS, is a multidisciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community.-Function:...

, and when in 1977 he was interviewed by its journal ‘Aerospace’ and asked about his interests outside aviation he remarked – with what was sad irony – that he had “taken a great interest in sailing
Yachting refers to recreational sailing or boating, the specific act of sailing or using other water vessels for sporting purposes.-Competitive sailing:...

”. He applied his knowledge of aerodynamics to sailing ship design.

He married, in 1936, Eileen McAdam of the macadam
Macadam is a type of road construction pioneered by the Scotsman John Loudon McAdam in around 1820. The method simplified what had been considered state-of-the-art at that point...

 road-building family descended from John Loudon McAdam
John Loudon McAdam
John Loudon McAdam was a Scottish engineer and road-builder. He invented a new process, "macadamisation", for building roads with a smooth hard surface that would be more durable and less muddy than soil-based tracks....

, and they had one daughter, the actress Ingrid Hafner
Ingrid Hafner
Ingrid Hafner was a British actress. Her father was Raoul Hafner, an Austrian helicopter pioneer, and her mother Eileen Myra McAdam was a descendant of John Loudon McAdam, the road builder....


External links

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