RC Helicopter History - 1971
Nürnberg Toy Fair and Schlüter's first production kit.
By early 1971 Dieter Schlüter had started shipping out individual kits so at the Nürnberg Toy Fair on the Simprop stand he achieved another first in presenting to the modelling world the first available commercial kit of a RC Helicopter. As you can see the first version had all metal gearboxes which proved expensive and too slow for mass production so were replaced later in the year by a plastic moulded item.
Among the first batch of kits was Horace Hagen's which he received in the USA in February and like others of the period he began the learning process on his own; he went on to become probably the first proficient helicopter pilot in the US.
Another helicopter was also displayed at Nürnberg but on the Brand Elektronic stand; this was a model of the Bell 'Huey' by Dutch builder A van der Velden. Powered by a HP61 engine and incorporating the 'Bell' system of stabilization, this model had been demonstrated hovering. Successful? Yes. But, as you can see from the photo's, whilst an engineers dream it would have been a production nightmare and so was just a 'one off'. Note the comments at the end, as would be known later on, the 'rods' were trainer bars in order to prevent the helicopter from being tipped over when in contact with the ground whilst 'learning'.
From the coverage above of Dave Gray's original helicopter late 1970, Dewey Broberg of Dub-Ro bought the manufacturing rights from David who then began work for Dub-Ro in developing his prototype into a commercial viable product. Note that this original helicopter is housed in the Smithsonian museum in the USA.
Horace Hagen's first displayed flight in the USA of the original production Schlüter Cobra, though it was still only tethered hovering.
Horace Hagen's demonstrates the Schlüter Cobra at the AMA nationals in Glenview USA.
Doylestown USA and during the F3A world championships Dieter Schlüter demonstrated the Cobra along with Horace Hagen and his model Cobra.
This demonstration had a profound effect on one of the observers, Hiroyuki Oki from Japan; so much so that he was to follow Dieter back to Europe and persuade him to part with his No2 prototype which he took back to Japan to study.
There was also a little controversy as Kavan had subsidised the tour to display the Schlüter Cobra (as noted by the 'Kavan' in big letters on the side), unfortunately this was mistaken as an intent for Kavan to import (as one of their kits) the Cobra to the USA. This was not going to happen as Dieter was already in Talks with Schuco-Hegi and so Kavan then approached FW Biesterfeld with a view to developing and marketing their own helicopter. Though Biesterfeld had a near functioning model Huey, as Schlüter already had a model of a military helicopter and even though the Huey was as well (if not more) known, it was decided to provide a contrast by kitting the most well know civilian helicopter; the JetRanger.
Dates to confirm for 71
Hiroyuki Oki after stripping down and studying Schlüter's No2 model, founded Kalt Sangyo Co Ltd and by obtaining a production license from Dieter Schlüter the First Kalt helicopter was brought out. This was the Huey Cobra 450 and was basically a scaled down Schlüter Cobra for '45' size engines; RC helicopters had arrived in Japan.
At the 'Stork Circus' meeting in France, R Matthey managed a helicopter first with an original Cobra i.e. the first to 'crash' one whilst 'showing off' at a public show !!!!!!!