In 1909, William J. Purvis saw a child playing with a whirligig in a candy store. It gave Purvis, a railroad mechanic the idea for a flying machine. He gave the child a penny and left with the toy.
A crowd gathered on Thanksgiving Day 1909 to watch Purvis and partner Charles A. Wilson's "gyrocopter." "Although weighted down with rocks to prevent flight, the machine lifted off the ground before settling back down. It had been hitched to a six-horsepower gasoline engine," according to Goodland's "Get Rural Kansas" website.
They began to sell $10 shares to their Goodland Aviation company. Investors put $30,000.
But alas, the two couldn't get the helicopter to work properly. They disbanded in March 1911, according to the website, but ironically, received a U.S. patent for the helicopter in 1912.
It wouldn't be until 1939 when Russian immigrant Igor Sikorsky - working in New York and Connecticut, came along with the first practical helicopter.