Timing Might be a Bit Off for the Hotelicopter*

5:43 PM

*See Editor's Note at the end of this post before reading on or before 04.01.09!!

Look around you right now, at your co-workers, or your neighbors down the street...the story is the same. You see people out of work, losing their homes, hanging on by fingernails, struggling to survive in what many are now calling the "Great Recession", a term that fits all to well.

For far too long, the loan sharks at our nation's credit card companies and mortgage brokerage houses have been preying on the collective stupidity of Average Joe, who HAD to have that mini-mansion in a gated community loaded with five flat screen TVs. His wife, Average Jane, wouldn't be caught dead showing up at her Jazzersize class in anything other than a late model Escalade, and their kids would like totally die if they didn't have designer jeans, an iPhone and every video game ever created.

But, according to a great article in this week's Time Magazine (my fave non-flying publication), the glory days of buying "stuff" you can't afford to pay for are gone:

"We saw what was happening for years, for decades, but we ignored it or shrugged it off, preferring to imagine that we weren't really headed over the falls. The median household income has been steadily declining this century ... but, but, but our houses and our 401(k)s were ballooning in value, right? Even smart, proudly rational people engaged in magical thinking, acting as if the new power of the Internet and its New Economy would miraculously make everything copacetic again. We all clapped our hands and believed in fairies. The popular culture tried to warn us. For 20 years, we've had Homer Simpson's spot-on caricature of the quintessential American: childish, irresponsible, willfully oblivious, fat and happy."
Given that the country is in no mood for excess anything, it seems like the worst time ever to launch about the wildest idea in air travel since the Hindenberg:
The Hotelicopter is an elegant modification of the Soviet made Mil V-12, of which there were only two prototypes ever made. The Hotelicopter Company purchased one of these prototypes from the Mikhail Leontyevich Mil helicopter plant in Panki-Tomilino, Russia in 2004 and in addition to extending the helicopter’s body to accommodate an extra floor, four GEnx turbofan engines have been added, each featuring a thrust range of 75,000 pounds.
So you may be asking, just what IS a "Hotelicopter" anyway. If you guessed it's a hotel inside a helicopter, you'd be right. From their site:
"The Hotelicopter features 18 luxuriously-appointed rooms for adrenaline junkies seeking a truly unique and memorable travel experience. Each soundproofed room is equipped with a queen-sized bed, fine linens, a mini-bar, coffee machine, wireless internet access, and all the luxurious appointments you’d expect from a flying five star hotel."
O.K., you get it – a flying hotel in an enormous rotarcraft – pretty groovy so far. Oh, but wait, there's more:
"Feel like pampering yourself? Visit the SkySpa, where you can indulge in a deep tissue/shiatsu/myofascial massage, get a manicure and pedicure, or touch up those highlights! Or perhaps you want to take a soak in the jacuzzi or indulge in our dry sauna. You can even hit the high pressure tanning bed. Want to mingle with the other guests? Hit the blackjack table, do a yoga class, or visit the tea garden!"
Yes, ma'am, plenty to do on the Hotelicopter. But according to their website on this page, there is one thing you can do in this flying hotel you can't do in the biggest, baddest Airbus:
"Each room has 600 thread-count imported sheets, feather pillows, turndown service, fresh-cut flowers, chocolates, monogrammed robes, plush carpeting, original artwork in cabin, whirlpool bath, warming toilet seats, designer soaps, modern décor, clip-on reading lights, in-bed temperature and dimming controls, oak accents, customized minibar/refreshment center based on your preferences, coffee machine, non-smoking, and unlike the A380, there are no restrictions on how much sex you can have in your cabin."
Looks like the Mile High Club will be getting quite a few new members once this service begins flying this summer. It has inaugural flights planned to the Caribbean, California and Europe, that is, if there are still enough ultra-high rolling whales out there with the money to explore the limits of aerial sexcapades while their "hotel" beats the air into submission.

Editor's Note: For those of you who think this is a big hoax, you might be right. I'm leaning in that direction, because the Hotelicopter website has no contact info, and I could not find any serious images of this thing being built. Lots of posts all over the web saying the image of it parked in front of the hangar – as well as the flight test shots with toy helicopters flying wing – is either CGI or Photoshop, and indeed, the interior shots looked to be ripped off from the Yotel Site in London. And one poster who was strongly voting for "hoax" asks this question: "If this were real, why would there be windows from the hallway into each room?"

Also, two other pieces of "evidence" seem to back up the hoax theory. A poster named "Allison" on the Hotelicopter's Facebook page says "Both of the original Soviet Mil V-12 are accounted for. The first is located at the plant that built it outside of Moscow and the second is on display at Monino Air Force Museum." Also, a Google images search for "hotelicopter" brought up a total of zero images on this thing. SO my guess is that this is an April Fool's prank that seems to be getting lots of attention.

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