A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by horizontally-spinning 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 (Vertical TakeOff and Landing) aircraft cannot perform.
Although most earlier designs used more than one main rotor, the configuration of a single main rotor (monocopter) accompanied by a vertical anti-torque tail rotor has become the most common helicopter configuration.
Twin-main rotor helicopters (bicopters), in either tandem or transverse rotors configurations, are also in use due to their greater payload capacity than the monorotor design.
Coaxial-rotor helicopters, tiltrotor aircraft, and compound helicopters are all flying today.
Quadrotor helicopters (quadcopters) were pioneered as early as 1907 in France, and other types of multicopters have been developed for specialized applications such as drones.
The first helicopter to reach full-scale production was the Sikorsky R-4 in 1942