Juan de la Cierva – Biography of Juan de la Cierva

Juan de la Cierva
Birth Place: Murcia, Spain


Juan de la Cierva y Codorníu, is the true name of the well-known Civil Engineer, Channels and Ports and Spanish aviator, creator of the first scale autogyro. The son of a lawyer, politician and businessman named Juan de la Cierva y Peñafiel, he was born on September 21, 1895, under the sign of the pound, in Murcia.
Since his childhood, this man has been known for his interest in aerial exhibitions. He has studied engineering at the Special School of Civil Engineers, Channels and Ports in Madrid, and later he continues with his studies on aeronautics in his spare time following the works of FW Lanchester and N. Jonkowski. Later, received as an engineer, as such he has been the one who takes the gyroplane to the helicopter, he may very well be what the Wright brothers’ flying machine was to the plane. His explanation has been to analyze that while the plane is an aircraft with wings attached to the fuselage, the autogyro has wings attached to a rotor. He has explained that his invention made its appearance on the aviation scene only twenty years after the invention of the Wright brothers.

It has been from 1916 that De la Cierva is dedicated to carrying out projects and building gliders and fixed-wing aircraft; and three years later an experimental tri-motor biplane designed by him crashes, which is why he decides to switch from fixed-wing aircraft designs to rotary-wing ones.

Juan’s first three prototypes have unfortunately failed, because the rotors were rigidly fixed to the central hub, so his next step has been to articulate them freely, thus achieving enough lift force for the machine to fly. It has been assessed that the first autogyro rose approximately 200 m in January 1923, and made three successive flights, one of them of approximately 4 km.

Thanks to his evolutions in 1925, De la Cierva moved to Great Britain to continue his work, and there he created a commercial company that he called “the Cierva Autogiro Company”, continuing with the founding of another company for the development of the autogyro. in the United States, and demonstrated his apparatus in France, Italy and Germany.

Undoubtedly, the inventor has continued to develop his designs, flying an autogyro across the English Channel in 1928, and from England to Spain in 1934, but sadly he has not lived long enough to see his gyrocopter turned into a helicopter. to that he died in 1936 on a routine flight when he crashed.

In 2003, the station located in Getafe on Line 12 of the Madrid Metro that bears his name was inaugurated. And the following year, the Ministry of Education and Science began a program for recruiting doctoral researchers under the name of the “Juan de la Cierva” Program. Two years later, Spanish and foreign researchers developed their research activity thanks to it.