The Hotelicopter -- Happy Early April Fools' Day

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The Hotelicopter is "the world's first flying hotel," and it's a helicopter, according to its promoter. An "elegant modification" of the Soviet Mil V-12 helicopter (only two were ever built back in the late 1960s, one was damaged in a hard landing and the other, according to several sources, is on display at a museum), the twin-rotor Hotelicopter derives added forward thrust from four GEnx turbofan engines that offer "a thrust range" of 75,000 pounds. Aboard the aircraft, each of 18 luxuriously appointed "soundproofed" rooms is equipped with a queen-sized bed "and all the luxurious appointments you'd expect from a flying five-star hotel," according to the promoter. That includes 600-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets on every bed, plus a SkySpa, where you might "touch up those highlights" or "take a soak in the Jacuzzi." As the promotional Web site eloquently notes, "traveling today is getting to be a real pain in the ass." So, obviously ... the Hotelicopter. The 137-foot-long, 91-foot-high, 232,870-pound, 18-room hotel cruises at about 145 miles per hour over about 700 miles suspended beneath two giant rotors, according to promoters. Feel free to sign up now. The inaugural 14-day tour departs from JFK on June 26, according to the Hotelicopter Web site, which comes complete with computer-generated images and a description of a first test flight that "went great" according to the imaginative folks behind it.

Things appear to be progressing quickly following the abbreviated flight test schedule. The site is offering several upcoming tours, aside from the inaugural tour that will take passengers from JFK to the Bahamas and multiple stops in between. There are also California and European tours of 14- and 16-days duration, respectively. No prices are listed, but really, what would you expect to pay? Interested parties can sign up for the Hotelicopter newsletter, which dependent on your level of cautious internet conservatism, we might strongly advise against. The actual Mil V-12 had a maximum takeoff weight of 231,485 pounds, but was considered too unwieldy for production and by 1974, its purpose of rapid deployment of strategic ballistic missiles was deemed unnecessary. Earlier in 1969, however, the aircraft carried an 88,636-pound payload to an altitude of nearly 7,400 feet -- setting a new world record in the process.