Engelbert Zaschka

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Engelbert Zaschka
Engelbert Zaschka and his human-powered glider during 1934
BornSeptember 1, 1895
DiedJune 26, 1955 (aged 59)
Resting place Freiburg im Breisgau
Residence Germany
Nationality Flag of Germany.svg German
Occupation Engineer, Inventor
Known forHelicopter, human-powered aircraft, automobile engineering
TitleChief Engineer, Chief Designer, Inventor

Engelbert Zaschka (September 1, 1895 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – June 26, 1955 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany) [1] [2] was a German chief engineer, [3] chief designer and inventor. [4] Zaschka is one of the first German helicopter pioneers and he is a pioneer of flying with muscle power and the folding car. Zaschka devoted himself primarily to aviation and automotive topics, but his work was not limited to them.

Freiburg im Breisgau Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Freiburg im Breisgau is a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, with a population of about 220,000. In the south-west of the country, it straddles the Dreisam river, at the foot of the Schlossberg. Historically, the city has acted as the hub of the Breisgau region on the western edge of the Black Forest in the Upper Rhine Plain. A famous old German university town, and archiepiscopal seat, Freiburg was incorporated in the early twelfth century and developed into a major commercial, intellectual, and ecclesiastical center of the upper Rhine region. The city is known for its medieval minster and Renaissance university, as well as for its high standard of living and advanced environmental practices. The city is situated in the heart of the major Baden wine-growing region and serves as the primary tourist entry point to the scenic beauty of the Black Forest. According to meteorological statistics, the city is the sunniest and warmest in Germany, and held the all-time German temperature record of 40.2 °C (104.4 °F) from 2003 to 2015.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans.


Engelbert Zaschka is a prominent representative of the rotary aircraft, a class of rotorcraft systems - according to Zaschka. [5] In 1928/1929 Zaschka developed and constructed the first collapsible and foldable small car (folding car) and in 1934 an early muscle-powered airplane. [6]

Rotorcraft Heavier-than-air aircraft which generates lift over rotating wings

A rotorcraft or rotary-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine that uses lift generated by wings, called rotary wings or rotor blades, that revolve around a mast. Several rotor blades mounted on a single mast are referred to as a rotor. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines a rotorcraft as "supported in flight by the reactions of the air on one or more rotors". Rotorcraft generally include those aircraft where one or more rotors are required to provide lift throughout the entire flight, such as helicopters, autogyros, and gyrodynes. Compound rotorcraft may also include additional thrust engines or propellers and static lifting surfaces.


Zaschka became one of the first German helicopter pioneers. His machine is a striking representative of the Rotationsflugzeug (Zaschka calls it "rotating airplane"). [7] Chief Engineer Engelbert Zaschka pursued in 1929 in Berlin, the approach of the folding-Zaschka three-wheeler. This city car concept was aimed to be cost effective and space saving by the vehicle could be folded after use sparingly. In 1934 Engelbert Zaschka completed a large human-powered aircraft. He was an inventor who held numerous international patents as it related to the helicopter.

Helicopter Type of rotor craft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors

A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward, and laterally. These attributes allow helicopters to be used in congested or isolated areas where fixed-wing aircraft and many forms of VTOL aircraft cannot perform.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Engineering Activities

Zaschka Helicopter

Zaschka-Rotationsflugzeug (Zaschka Rotary-Wing Airplane) ZASCHKA Rotationsflugzeug (Trag und Hubschrauber).jpg
Zaschka-Rotationsflugzeug (Zaschka Rotary-Wing Airplane)

In 1927 [8] Engelbert Zaschka of Berlin built a helicopter, equipped with two rotors, in which a gyroscope was used to increase stability and serves as an energy accumulator for a gliding flight to make a landing. Gliding in this case means a straight descent. He wanted to develop an efficient propeller drive. [9] A swivelling propeller at the rear provided propulsion and rudder control. The machine was a combination of an autogyro and a helicopter. The principal advantage of the machine, Zaschka says, is in its ability to remain motionless in the air for any length of time and to descend in a vertical line, so that a landing may be accomplished on the flat roof of a large house. In appearance, the helicopter does not differ much from the ordinary monoplane, but the carrying wings revolve around the body.

Helicopter rotor rotary wings and control system that generates the lift and thrust for a helicopter

A helicopter main rotor or rotor system is the combination of several rotary wings and a control system that generates the aerodynamic lift force that supports the weight of the helicopter, and the thrust that counteracts aerodynamic drag in forward flight. Each main rotor is mounted on a vertical mast over the top of the helicopter, as opposed to a helicopter tail rotor, which connects through a combination of drive shaft(s) and gearboxes along the tail boom. The blade pitch is typically controlled by a swashplate connected to the helicopter flight controls. Helicopters are one example of rotary-wing aircraft (rotorcraft). The name is derived from the Greek words helix, helik-, meaning spiral; and pteron meaning wing.

Gyroscope device for measuring or maintaining orientation and direction

A gyroscope is a device used for measuring or maintaining orientation and angular velocity. It is a spinning wheel or disc in which the axis of rotation is free to assume any orientation by itself. When rotating, the orientation of this axis is unaffected by tilting or rotation of the mounting, according to the conservation of angular momentum.

Gliding recreational activity and competitive air sport

Gliding is a recreational activity and competitive air sport in which pilots fly unpowered aircraft known as gliders or sailplanes using naturally occurring currents of rising air in the atmosphere to remain airborne. The word soaring is also used for the sport.

Zaschka Human-Power Aircraft (1934)

Zaschka Human-Power Aircraft, Berlin 1934 Zaschka Human-Power Aircraft (1934).jpg
Zaschka Human-Power Aircraft, Berlin 1934

In 1934 [10] Engelbert Zaschka completed a large human-powered aircraft, the Zaschka Human-Power Aircraft. Zaschka constructed the large human-powered tractor monoplane with a narrow wing spanning about 66 feet (20 metres). On 11 July 1934 he flew his large human-powered aircraft, the Zaschka Human-Power Aircraft, about 20 meters at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport without assisted take off. [11] [12]

Motorcycle: The German Orionette (1921-1925)

From 1921 till 1925 the design department of Orionette AG für Motorfahrzeuge in Berlin (Berlin SO 26, Oranienstr. 6), [13] headed by Engelbert Zaschka, also produced some interesting unorthodox designs. [14] Orionette is a historic German motorcycle brand.

Orionette is a historic German motorcycle brand.

Motorcycle two- or three-wheeled motor vehicle

A motorcycle, often called a bike, motorbike, or cycle, is a two- or three-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycle design varies greatly to suit a range of different purposes: long distance travel, commuting, cruising, sport including racing, and off-road riding. Motorcycling is riding a motorcycle and related social activity such as joining a motorcycle club and attending motorcycle rallies.

Folding Zaschka Three-wheeler (1929)

Folding City Car: Zaschka Three-wheeled car, 1929 Zaschka Threewheeler (1929).jpg
Folding City Car: Zaschka Three-wheeled car, 1929
Engelbert Zaschka with model of the gyroplane, 1928 Bundesarchiv Bild 102-10106, Engelbert Zaschka mit Modell des Kreisel-Flugzeugs.jpg
Engelbert Zaschka with model of the gyroplane, 1928

The space and parking problems of the metropolitan areas were recognized in the 1920s. In 1929 Engelbert Zaschka invented a three-wheeled car in Berlin. [15] Zaschka's car was a folding three-wheeler, designed so that it could be taken apart within 20 minutes. The car could be "knocked down" into three main sections. It was capable of a speed of 25 to 30 miles an hour. [16] Aspects of Zaschka's car were important to U.S. inventor and architect Richard Buckminster Fuller in the development of his Dymaxion car in 1933. [17]


His [Engelbert Zaschka’s] plane, the first helicopter, which ever worked so successfully in miniature, not only rises and descends vertically, but is able to remain stationary at any height. German airplane experts assert that such a flight as that of Captain [Charles] Lindbergh's from New York to Paris would not even be a feat for Zaschka's plane when it was perfected. […] Herr Zaschka is fully aware that the perfection of his invention will be the greatest forward step in aviation since the Wright brothers made their historical hop. As he pointed out, the danger of flying would immediately be decreased by at least 80 percent, since four fifths of the accidents in flying occur either in the takeoff or in landing. […] A motor giving thirty to forty horsepower is installed in Zaschka's present experimental machine. It is so delicately adjusted that he has been able to keep the plane at a height of several feet above the ground, with no movement either up or down.

German Plane Promises New Stunts in Air, The Bee. Danville, Virginia, USA, June 25, 1927, p. 16


As a composer, Engelbert Zaschka created popular music, including Slavoma - Der neuste Tanz (1925), which was recorded at least twice: by the orchestra Bernard Etté and the saxophone orchestra Dobbri under the direction of Otto Dobrindt. Furthermore, he wrote and composed the hit Wer hat den bloß den Hering am Schlips mir festgemacht (1928).



One of the first publications about helicopters. It is written in 1936 for airplane designers, as well as supporters of the rotary-wing aircraft construction.


TV documentary in which Zaschka is treated

Große Ideen – kleine Flops: Geistesblitze von A bis Z. Documentary, Germany, 2016, 90 minutes, authors: Andreas Kölmel and Jürgen Vogt; Production: SWR Fernsehen, German premiere: May 16, 2016; Information about the documentary.

See also

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  1. Date of birth and place of birth: Geburtsurkunde. Standesamt Freiburg im Breisgau Nr. 937/1895: Engelbert Zaschka "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2010-03-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  2. Date of death and place of death: Stadt Freiburg im Breisgau, Eigenbetrieb Friedhöfe: Engelbert Zaschka, January 24, 2008 .
  3. Rolf Besser: Technik und Geschichte der Hubschrauber: Von Leonardo da Vinci bis zur Gegenwart. Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 1996, p. 65
  4. The University of Texas at Dallas: Vice Admiral Charles E. Rosendahl Collection - Biographical Information Archived June 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine (See also: Charles E. Rosendahl)
  5. Zaschka, Engelbert (1936). Drehflügelflugzeuge. Trag- und Hubschrauber. Berlin-Charlottenburg: C. J. E. Volckmann Nachf. E. Wette. p. 57.
  6. Zaschka (ed.). Zaschka.
  7. Engelbert Zaschka: Drehflügelflugzeuge. Trag- und Hubschrauber. C.J.E. Volckmann Nachf. E. Wette, Berlin-Charlottenburg 1936, p. 57
  8. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Washington: Zaschka Helicopter (1927)
  9. Engelbert Zaschka: Drehflügelflugzeuge. Trag- und Hubschrauber. C.J.E. Volckmann Nachf. E. Wette, Berlin-Charlottenburg 1936, p. 47
  10. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Washington: Zaschka Human-Power Aircraft (1934)
  11. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Washington: Zaschka Human-Power Aircraft (1934)
  12. Lange, Bruno (1970). Das Buch der deutschen Luftfahrttechnik. Verlag Dieter Hoffmann, p. 361.
  13. Otto Meibes: Die Entwicklung der deutschen Automobilindustrie. Halle 1926, p. 166
  14. "Orionette" - Unfortunately the very desmodromic lay-out of this interesting two-stroke engine still remains secret. Source: Motorrad Heft 10/1971 and Tragatsch, E. : The Ill. Encyclopedia of motorcycles.
  15. OLDTIMER MARKT (Oldtimer-Magazin), Heft 7/93, Artikel von Claudia Franke-Brandau: Parken im Wohnzimmer: Der zerlegbare Kleinwagen des Berliner Erfinders Engelbert Zaschka von 1929, page 206
  16. "Come-Apart Auto Invented", The Massena Observer, New York, March 12, 1931, p. 3
  17. synchronofile.com: Dymaxion - Synergetics Stew January 2009