God knows I've wasted a lot of time configuring hundreds of cars over the years. In fact, I'd say that my passion for cars grew exponentially when the online car configurator first surfaced decades ago, as it allowed me to interact with the very cars I worshipped. Sure, they were basic at first, but they were fun. Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, Porsches, you name it, I've configured them. But what about a helicopter? Not until today.
I've now wasted at least one hour of my life playing with Bell's new helicopter online configurator. Whether you're dreaming of an adventurous Bell 505 or a swanky 525, you can configure a total of five of Bell's choppers to your heart's content. And the best part is, you don't have to be an aviation nerd for it to be fun. You simply have to enjoy wasting time building up machines you can't afford. And really, who doesn't like doing that?
Like most car configs, it's a multi-step process. In this case, it's roughly five steps of configuration plus a summary at the end. But unlike most car ones, Bell won't give you a price or the contact information of a dealer where you can buy your dream chopper, though you can request a quote. Also, no Lease Specials based on your location. Sigh...
What it will let you do, however, is choose from five different kinds of choppers (each one with specific qualifications), and then select roughly five to seven different configurations. These are essentially like upfits for commercial trucks or vans. Do you want your chopper to be for VIP transport, medical response, cargo duty, flight training, law enforcement, etc? Depending on the configuration, your chopper will have a specific upfit inside and out.
Then comes one of the most basic but also coolest parts of a configurator: paint colors. There are about 18 different colors to choose from, but depending on the helicopter model you selected, you'll also get to tinker with various liveries, accents, and color combinations. Once you're done with the exterior, you can move inside the cabin, where you can select interior styles, colors, materials, and other cool options.
For example, if you're looking to take your chopper to the Alps on a skiing trip, you may want to stick with two benches and plenty of space in the back to place skis or snowboards. But if you're moving personnel to an oil rig in the middle of the Atlantic, then 16 seats (+2 up front) should do the trick. There are many cool options to explore in this regard, and it definitely gives you a new appreciation for what these machines are capable of.
Lastly, you can select various accessories. This part is fairly specific and I don't even know what half of these mean or do, but there are some self-explanatory options like flotation devices, headsets, snow gear, different kinds of windows, various avionics systems, radars, and lighting.
Earlier this year I experienced my first flight in a helicopter and I found it exhilarating, though a bit intimidating at first. There's no doubt in my mind now that choppers are just cool, and it's easy to see why rich people love them—especially now that I know you can customize every single thing about them.
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