During the First World War, Marcel Leyat worked an an engineer with the airforce. During this period, he designed the first prototype of the so-called 'Helica'. The 'aircraft without wings' was built on the Quai de Grenelle in Paris. Between 1919 and 1925, he managed to sell 30 of the vehicles. The Helica was made primarily of plywood.
The passengers sat behind each other, as in an aircraft. The vehicle was steered using the rear wheels. The propeller was powered by an 8 bhp Scorpion engine. The entire vehicle weighed just 250 kg (550lb) and was therefore dangerously fast.
In 1927, a Helica achieved a top speed of no less than 106 mph (170 kph) at the Monthery Circuit. Leyat continued to experiment with his Helica. He tried using propellers with two and four blades and even produced a coupe version.
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