Press competition circa 1969

I was just reading a sweet TIME article from May 1969 entitled “Japanese Air Force.” It’s about the fleets of small aircraft which Japanese newspapers used to move reporters and information around at high speeds, back before they had bullet trains or broadband.

This passage is particularly exciting to read, and does a lot to help restore the credibility of a certain everyday newspaper:

Mainichi’s newsmen still gloat about a photo they got of the Rising Sun replacing the Stars and Stripes over Iwo Jima last summer, even though the ceremony marking the return of Japanese sovereignty ended just 15 minutes before the paper’s evening deadline. As the ceremony ended, a Beechcraft took off from Iwo Jima, 775 miles south of Tokyo, and negatives were processed aboard. Another plane sped toward Iwo, received the photos by radio when the planes were 250 miles apart, then turned toward Hachijo Jima, 175 miles south of Tokyo. While still in the air, the second plane radioed the pictures to a ground station at Hachijo, which then transmitted them to Tokyo by undersea cable. No other evening paper pictured that historic event.

I can’t help but think that as technology continues to advance, logistics will become a lost art. Nowadays we can use e-mail and FedEx to get anything done in short time–what will happen when we have, say, networked matter replicators?

Incidentally, a google image search for “japanese air force” turns up the following picture, which according to a humor blog is some sort of Jieitai training: