United Kingdom

The first RC helicopter kits were brought out by German companies being expensive and quite complicated with fibreglass scale fuselages.  Whilst the UK at that time lagged a little behind the rest of the world, experimenters were approaching the problems from other directions.  The UK had always been a nation of modellers and loved making things out of metal and wood so out of the numerous experimenters, two were to come to the fore highlighting complimentary successful approaches as the winning (Jim Morley) and 2nd place (Peter Valentine) entries in the first UK helicopter competition sponsored by RCM&E at Sywell Easter 1973.

After the success of the competition, Jim Morley with an engineering approach initially supplied materials and a few special parts for those with home machining capability.  Peter Valentine's design was to taken up by the Micro-Mold company which resulted in the 'Lark' series of helicopters kits; these required more 'traditional' modelling techniques.  Both designs were to use much smaller engines and so both provided a much cheaper 'entry' thus allowing 'sport' flyers to attempt helicopters; of course learning to fly would be the same however, the result of any mishap would be less due to their lighter weight and simplicity so repairs would be significantly cheaper than 'scale' machines.

Though Micro-Mold actively sold the 'Lark' and developed the model into a '40' size machines they did not follow it up and it was left to Jim Morley who had developed his production to full 'Kit' manufacture to carry the flag in UK.  At one time the Morley range was quite extensive and they sold well but were generally builders models, unfortunately the Far East manufacturers though more expensive went down the KISS principle in their trainers and thus took the market from Morley.  MFA joined the 'scene' in 1979 with a 'scale kit' followed by its derivative, a pod and boom trainer.  Though progressing to collective pitch and returning to a scale fuselage, development again stagnated and this model faded away.  Rotair was basically an updated MFA Sport 500 and was brought out in 1989 hoping to get sales from the 'cheap trainer' area of marketing but unfortunately did not achieve any success.

It is strange that the UK had in the 70's (and later) one of the 'strongest' RC modelling consumer markets and yet only one manufacturer achieved any real level of commercial success.  However, an area that the UK proved good at was 'aftermarket' support and whilst not full kit manufacturers, both Dave Nieman and Slough models provided strong support both for their for their imported range of models and their own design scale fuselage models.

Finally, Snelflight and something different this time with a tethered machine of unusual design, again though only had limited success before fading away.........

 

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