Air racer Muroya personifies adventurous spirit(室屋選手、エアレース年間王者)

Yoshihide Muroya holds the winner’s trophy for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Fukushima Sky Park in Fukushima on Oct. 20.(総合優勝のトロフィーを手に笑顔の室屋選手=20日午後、福島市・ふくしまスカイパーク)

 Fukushima resident Yoshihide Muroya became the first series champion from Asia in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on Oct. 15, winning the final round of this year's season-ending eighth race in Indianapolis. It was his fourth victory this season.


 Muroya, 44, is a native of Nara Prefecture. He went to the United States at 20 and acquired a light plane license there. His road to becoming an aerobatics pilot was far from easy: After graduating from university, he spent most of each year working part-time, a frustrating situation for him. Every time he saved some money, he flew to the United States to train.


 In 1999, Muroya moved his practice base to the Fukushima Sky Park airfield. "There's a 'big sky' here that is perfect for my flying practice," he recalled. "That was the biggest attraction for me."
 In 2002, Muroya borrowed money to buy his first plane and participated in many airshows. Having trouble paying for fuel costs, he actively sought out sponsors. He made his debut in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2009.


 He experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and witnessed the nuclear crisis. Fukushima Sky Park became a base for receiving relief supplies. Muroya participated in postdisaster support activities as an executive of the Fukushima Flight Association, a Fukushima-based nonprofit organization that manages the park.


 Muroya has been running a flight school for children on a regular basis. "I'm motivated when I see children's hopeful, shining eyes, because I remember that I also started [my career] with the same feelings," he said before the final race on Oct. 15, at which he made his great achievement.


 Yoshiaki Saito, the association's chief executive officer, recalled when he first spoke with Muroya at the end of 2001. "He already had a big dream of aiming for the world with an airplane," Saito said.
 Over the years since they met, Muroya polished his skills in the sky in Fukushima and finally grabbed the honor of "the world's best air racer."


  "In particular, I feel his mental strength has matured," said Saito. "He was able to keep his word and achieve a high target because he continued to challenge himself."


 Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori praised Muroya's feat at a press conference on Oct. 16, saying: "His path to overall victory could never have been easy, but he pulled off a miracle by continuing to take on a challenge. He is definitely a symbol of Fukushima's adventurous spirit." The Fukushima prefectural government decided that day to award Muroya a prefectural citizen's honor award.


 Muroya returned to Fukushima Sky Park in triumph on Oct. 20.
 "My victory is the result of training for years in Fukushima," he said with a smile. "You all gave me power. I'm back here with the trophy I won together with you."

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2017年10月17日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】