It's hard to imagine the first All-Japan RC Model Helicopter Championship Contest - nearly 40 years ago. This report from the April 1973 edition of American Aircraft Modeler has man-on-the-scene Larry Hoffman's account of the events. There were only 22 contestants flying that day, and all but one flew the Hueycobra made and sold by Kalt, of Tokyo. There were no heading hold gyros or programmable transmitters with pitch and throttle curves - just good old-fashion pilot skill and lots of body language. I certainly don't long for those days - I can barely fly an R/C chopper with all the modern electronic assistance - but the fortitude of the helicopter pioneers is worthy of note and praise.
On the Scene
By Larry Hoffman
Photos by Larry Hoffman
Twenty-two fliers entered. Of these, 21 were the Japanese Kalt Hueycobra design, each painted to look different - lotsa luck artists. It is purely a military design.
The 26th of November, Sunday, dawned on a crispy, dry, cold, typical Japanese winter's day with beautiful Mt. Fuji clearly visible to suburban dwellers.
After rousing my son and meeting his young friend we traveled about one hour by train to the site of the first All-Japan RC Model Helicopter Championship Contest. The location was the town of Irumagawa, home of the Musashi RC Model Club, situated about forty kilometers north of Tokyo City.
Registration hit 33, but actual contestants flying numbered 22. With the exception of one 0.0. chopper, all were a scaled-down version of Dieter Schluter's Hueycobra made and sold by the Kalt Co., Tokyo. The 0.0. was called the "Guppy, Mark I" by Shohei Fujimaki of Kanagawa, Japan. Fujimaki, a leading stunt flier, tells us his chopper houses an Enya 60 for power, weighs 4.7 kg., has a main rotor span of 1.6 meters, is controlled by a Digicon-5 radio, uses 400 cc of fuel for flights of ten to fifteen minutes duration and has collective pitch control.
There were lots of pilot error crashes. The scene was not always as calm as shown here. Takashi Oyamada about to begin his flight. Note the judges are well away from the action for safety
This is a Kalt helicopter but fitted with their new Jet Ranger body. Note muffler is entirely inside.
A well-known flier, often on Japan's World Championship teams, lsao Matsui clowns around, but did not attempt a real takeoff.
Another well-known modeler, Yuji Oki, skillfully flies his helicopter slowly into the waiting hands of his helper. They make it look so easy.
Contest rules were quite simple:
Seven minutes for engine start and flight; Pattern consisted of (a) Takeoff at approximately 10 to 15 degrees angle and climb out. (b) Right- or left-hand turn, return to the starting point and a five-sec. straight flight. (c) Left turn through 360 degrees. (d) Hover for five seconds. (e) Landing pattern and off-the-spot landing. (f) spot landing.
Two rounds were flown with the highest single score counting as the final score. Entry fee included lunch and came to about $1.55. Trophies included one from Dieter Schluter for the 1st place winner with trophies from the U.S. sponsored for 2nd and 3rd. Several Japanese manufacturers put up trophies and goodies down to 7th place.
With good weather prevailing throughout the day and the wind behaving itself, the only crashes (and there were quite a few) were due to pilot error. As a matter of fact, this could be called a "class" contest since all but one bird. were exactly the same except for the paint job. It was quite interesting to note the skill levels as the more experienced pilots took off and whipped through the maneuvers with relative ease, leaving the others to fight various degrees of tail pitch problems, uncertain engine vs. main rotor control, and all the other coordination difficulties that make helicopter flying a sport for the lion-hearted.
The final scores showed the big difference between the beginning pilot and those fortunate enough to be able to practice frequently. First place went to Kazuo Aoki from Osaka with 1760 points; second to Takauki Nomura, from Tokyo, with 1480 points; third-place was taken by Hisashi Ushio, also from Osaka, with 1460 points.
It might be mentioned that the fifth-place winner, Akihiro Itani, is only 16 years old. He put on a fine display of what can be done if you really put your mind to it. For general information, young Itani's father is president of the Sankyo Radio Co., maker of Sankyo digital control systems.
What? "Body English" in Japan? Isao Hirasawa lands acceptably but missed the spot. He scored quite high for the flight.
Contestant Takeshi Inoue takes off into the wind.
Posted August 28, 2019 (original 9/24/2011)