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A helicopter is an aircraft without wings that flies by means of a large overhead propeller and a smaller one on the side of the tail in the rear. Helicopters have the advantage of being able to rise straight up or descend straight down, requiring only a small space to land and take off. They are also capable of hovering in a stationary position in mid-air. These unusual flight characteristics make helicopters uniquely suitable for certain tasks:
- Search and Rescue in mountainous or forested areas where a winged aircraft cannot land, and for hauling people off sinking ships or out of the water as they hover overhead.
- Military Operations where they are used as gun and missile platforms for air to ground attack, or for troop transport.
- Police Surveillance and Pursuit of suspects.
- Fire fighting in remote forested areas.
- Rapid Transport to the top of buildings in the middle of large cities.
- Television Coverage of events from the air.
The battlefield use of helicopters was pioneered by the U.S. marines during the Korean War. Helicopters in Korea were used primarily evacuation of the wounded and re-supply of ground forces. []. The Vietnam War saw the first large-scale tactical use of helicopters for rapid troop deployment, and as an air to ground weapon.