The original full sized 'Jaycopter' was launched at the New York World's Fair in 1964, and although conceived as a flight training helicopter it mainly saw service as a fairground attraction. The sensations of a real helicopter flight were advertised by the Edmonton based manufacturer, and notable riders included John F. Kennedy Jr and Caroline Kennedy.
The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair was held across 140 pavilions with over 45 corporations commissioned to build exhibits or attractions at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York. The fair is noted as a showcase of mid-20th-century American technology and the nascent Space Age, with its vista of promise, was well represented. More than 51 million people attended the fair, whose motto was 'Peace through understanding', and it remains a touchstone for many American Baby Boomers who visited the optimistic fair as children before the Vietnam war and domestic protests began to cast a shadow across the American consciousness.
The 'helicopter' was attached by a long boom to a tall tower, with the pilot spinning, hovering and reversing at the request of his passengers. The electric-powered ride had a ceiling of 100 feet and a circular flight path 125 feet in diameter.
Two different models were produced - an 8 seater and a 16 seater - and for those who wished to try their hand at piloting there were the 'Baby Jays'. of which this is a lovingly restored example.
The Baby jay was essentially a miniature version of the real thing, and these were arranged in a line of bubble topped booths below the main attraction. The left hand lever controls the power whislt the right governs the pitch of the helicopter, and with practise you can hover, land smoothly and even reverse.
The object of the game, which vends on 25c coins, is to fly the helicopter so it lands on each of three numbered heliport pads (in order) spaced around the playfield. As you progress through the three pads, trees start to come into play and if you hit one of these obstacles a "crash" light glows on the control board, meaning that you have to go back and re-touch your last pad.
So rare are these games nowadays that we only know of one other example, which is in the Aviation Museum of Edmonton, Canada. Comprehenisvely refurbished and fully functional, this Baby Jay is in superb condition and represents a highly collectable piece of vintage Americana.