The History of Drones

Drones are currently one of the most useful and cinematic tools available to filmmakers around the globe. With brands such as DJI and GoPro mass producing such products, amateur and professionals alike can capture truly stunning aerial footage. But where did it all start? As a species, Humans are fascinated with flight, and always have been. In regard to the origins of flight, I’m sure we all know of Leonardo Da Vinci’s original sketch of a ‘helicopter’, and how he imagined flight would work.

Pictured to the left, Da Vinci imagined 3-4 people standing inside the inner structure of the object pushing the object around its axis. The generated force would cause the screw like head to generate lift. Although this concept has now been disproven, the very concept at such an early stage is fascinating. However, many believe that there is earlier recording of flight within the history of ancient Egypt. With no physical evidence, the only recordings are through a series of hieroglyphs; pictured to the right. Many people have pointed out the likeness of the paintings to modern methods of flight.

With the ancient history out the way, the modern-day drone draws its inspiration from the helicopter. The invention of the first successful designs is credited to Igor Sikorsky and Paul Cornu. Cornu designed and built a ‘Cornu Helicopter’ that used two 20 foot counter-rotating rotors driven by a 24 Horsepower engine. On the 13th of November, 1907 the helicopter and inventor remained aloft for 20 seconds just 30 centi-meters of the ground. However, this was surpassed by two French brothers, 2 months earlier. Jacques and Louis Brequet developed the Gyroplane No.1. The worlds first quadcopter. The gyroplane No.1 could remain aloft for up to 1 minute and hover around 0.6m off the ground. Flight was rapidly becoming available outside the expensive and dangerous form of aeroplanes.

For many years, the only way to capture stunning aerial shots, was from the expensive form of massive camera rigs attached to large, noisy and intrusive helicopters. There was a gap in the market! Many people had played around with attempting to attach small cameras such as GoPros to toy helicopters/quadcopters, almost inevitably ending in failure and expensive damages. Companies such as DJI and Nixie paved the way, and showed the industry the need for such impressive technology. Soon, drones fitted with cameras and gimbles were popping up all over the market, for various prices, and promising various factors. In 2014, the world was promised the first wearable drone, known as Nixie. The advert below shows what we should expect from the product. If this product works as it is advertised, this shows how far drone and flight technology has come.

I like to imagine, if you told Leonardo Da Vinci or the ancient Egyptians where we would be with flight technology today, they would have been astounded. Not only can we now fly around the globe within a day, but we can capture some truly beautiful, brilliant and breath-taking shots from above our subject.

Camilla Preece

Content Creator, Preece PR

I am a freelance corporate storyteller, I offer copywriting services to businesses to enable them to tell their story and reach out to their audience. I work with Epictech Media on a regular basis, writing blog posts, project pages and scripts.

When I’m not writing for work, I write fiction, take photographs, do one of my many craft hobbies and even, occasionally, spend time with my family!


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