Pylon racing was first introduced in the 1960s. It was during this time that advances in technology for radio-controlled (RC) aeroplanes made pylon racing a more feasible sport. The first racing tournaments were held and organised in the USA during this time as well.
The equipment was still relatively expensive, and this meant that few people had the funds to participate in the sport. The advances in technology for RC equipment also meant that people could fly bigger and faster model aeroplanes.
Initially, contests were held where aeroplanes had to circle two pylons that were a distance of about 160 metres apart. The pylons had to be circled about five times. In those days, only one pilot had to fly against the clock, and the contest could thus not be compared to modern pylon racing.
Modern pylon racing involves a competition between 3 or more pilots that all need to race against the clock. The pilot with the shortest flight time would then be crowned the victor. Famous pilots like Jerry Nelson and Howard Bonner made RC pylon racing what it is today.
In 1969, around the same time as the first moon landing, the first official pylon racing tournament was held in Germany. This is where Manfred Pick made a name for himself. Pick is to date one of the most successful pylon racers in the world with his participation in tournaments all across Europe, claiming many titles through the decades.
The manufacturing quality of aeroplane models was greatly improved during the 1990s. It was during this time that many pylon records were broken. The standards for model aircraft became quite high during this period, yet advances in aviation technology for the sport have been much steadier since then.
There are many reliable engines on the market today for pylon racing. These engines vary from “stock” engines to customised engines. Anatoly Kohaniuk from Moscow is well-known for his engine designs and customisations.
Supplying parts and model aeroplanes are not high in demand, and quality manufacturers for pylon racing engines are not easy to find, compared with engines for RC cars and boats. However, pylon racing still continues to intrigue professionals and fans of the sport.