A TV program of 40th Japan International Birdman Rally (JIBR) 2017 (鳥人間コンテスト2017) was broadcasted on 23 Aug, 2017. Yomiuri telecasting corporation, who is organizer of the competition, unveiled results of the competition on their website after broadcasting the program. The TV program has been webcasted within Japan. However, unfortunately it can not be watched officially in other countries. So this article try to introduce you very brief overview of winner of the JIBR.
Glider category: Student’s team won by breaking 400 metre barrior!
Glider category is the oldest category in JIBR competitions. Machines used in this category can not have propeller. The participants try to fly with their own home-made light weight gliders. The game record of the category is 501.38 meters (approx 548.32 yards) of flight distance.
Flight of “Tsudanuma Aeronautical Team at Nihon university college of industrial technology”‘s glider, which is named “Squalo”, piloted by Hikaru SATO, that is the winner of glider category in JIBR 2017.
Tsudanuma Aeronautical Team at Nihon university college of industrial technology and their pilot Hikaru SATO won the 1st prize with 440.37 metre (approx. 481.59 yards) flightdistance in the glider category of the year. This flight distance is the 5th longest distance in this category. 400 metre class flight had been occupited by just only team “Mitaka Mobara” and thier pilot Mr. OKI known as undisputed king of birdman since Mr. OKI’s first 400 metre flight 16 years ago. Therefore 400 metre as flight distance of the category was a impregnable barrior for participants except Mr. OKI. JIBR TV program called area farther than 400 metre as “OKI zone” with paying respect.
The Tsudanuma Aeronautical Team and Mr. SATO was 4th performers of the category. Support member and Mr. SATO took steady and fast approrch run and he pulled up their machine smoothly at proper altitude. As a result, He successed giving their machine good speed and keeping enough altitude. Clam wind which kept water surface clean looking like a mirror helped his machine to keep ground speed. Good design, good engineering, good training and good condition carried him farther than 400 metre from platform. Mr. SATO became the first pilot flew over more than 400 metre except Mr. OKI. They took over first place and kept it until Mitaka Mobara and Mr. OKI’s attempt.
On the other hand, the “undisputed king” team Mitaka Mobara Shimo-Yokota and their pilot Mr. OKI had to try flying in difficult conditions which are strong and rapidly changing wind as time goes on, because they were the last performers of the category as the defending champion according to JIBR rules. They made sure of wind condition carefully and Mr. OKI took off from the platform. However the fickle wind beated expectation of the team. In the latter half of their flight, their machine turned to upwind unintentionally and lost their groundspeed. Finally their machine splashed down with “only” 390.07 metre (approx. 426.59 yards) flight distance. At that moment, Tsudanuma Aeronautical Team became winner of the category. It is the first win for the Tsudanuma Aero nautical Team.
Distance of human-powered propeller airplane category: 40 km flight was came true!!
This category is the most famous category in JIBR. Machine used in this category have propeller driven by human power. Some HPAs in this category have high performance as well as Gossamer Albatross. In most of case, it is difficult to fly 30 km and more due to high temperature (approx. 30 deg C/ 86 deg F or higher) of Japanese summer. The game record of this category is 36 km (approx. 22.37 mi), which was longest distance specified by JIBR rule as of 2008. The specified distance has been 40 km (approx. 24.85 mi) since 2010. In order to acheve the longest 40 km flight, the rule requires to go and return on 20 km distance.
Team “BIRDMAN HOUSE Iga” and their pilot Yuta WATANABE won the 1st prize with 40,000 metre distance and 1 hour 38 minuits 20 seconds flight. They showed their own full performance in very confused condition without missing a little chance. Actualy, in that morning, it was rainy and start of the game was delayed. A typhoon was in far south sea but the typhoon changed the wind direction to unusual direction. Flight order was shuffled because the morning rain confused teams to prepare their own machines. Organizer was also confused to decide game start time. Finally the game started around 9:00, when it was about 3 hours delay. After starting the game, the unusual wind continued and change of the unusual wind direction was also unusual. However luck was on the “BIRDMAN HOUSE Iga”‘s side. It changed calm wind during almostly just only the team’s flight. After the team’s flight, wind blowed up increasingly from unusual north east. As a result,a chance of the longest flight was granted to the “BIRDMAN HOUSE Iga”.
Mr. WATANABE had made a tenacious effort until this win. Mr. WATANABE belonged to F-tec, which was HPA club at University of Tokyo, and he was rejected in JIBR screening in his university days. Most of student birdmen give up his/her second HPA activity when his/her chance of entry JIBR was lost because of lack of time, money, manpower or motivation. However, Mr. WATANABE did not give up. After graduating the university, he entered DMG MORI Co.,Ltd, which is famous machine tool company as you may know. And he restarted birdman activity just only him alone as “BIRDMAN HOUSE Iga”. He had gone forward with designing and manufacturing his HPA little by little in his off-time. His company allowed him to use some company-owned machine tools, In the last year, he was accepted to entry JIBR for the first time and he got some team members in his company. And he won the 3rd prize with 17 km flight in spite of a few member of the team and a little training. For this yeas’s competition, he modified design of his HPA to reduse machine weight to 28 kg for 32 metre wing span and he trained harder than in the last year as a pilot.
Mr. WATANABE and his team member showed an amazing performance. In this category in this year, many team were also very competitive although it was difficult condition. Team “ROKKO WORKS”, which won the 2nd prize, got 30 km flight. Top 6 flight achieved more than 10 km and total flight distance of 15 teams is 155 km. It is the longest record in JIBR. The last team flew in almost dusk. Finally the game took around 9 hours. An aword ceremony and a closing ceremony were canceled beccause they were out of time. The 40 th JIBR became unforgettable competition in many aspect.
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