Retro Coin Op Synopsis
In the late 1960’s, coin-op giant Midway let arcaders try their hands at piloting helicopters. Okay, little model airplane-sized helicopters, and enclosed in glass…but use your imagination, won’t ya?
First up was Whirly Bird, in which the pilot maneuvered his flying vessel through a circular mountain course and connected with lit-up targets for points. If the pilot was fast enough, which meant dropping that nose, pulling that collective, and not doing any of that leisurely Sunday flying, the game allowed extra playing time. It was an imaginative, lively little world inside that glass, and it took a steady hand to navigate it.
If the mountain course was too tame for your tastes, Midway also developed Chopper. In this manually-controlled helicopter game, a pilot had to defend himself from an attack from outer space. The aircraft was armed with a lethal light beam, thank goodness, but it was still tough going with all those Martian spaceships hovering around. As a pilot’s skill improved, the targets and obstacles moved faster and faster.
Other scale helicopter games were produced in the wake of Whirly Bird and Chopper, but the dawn of the video era put an end to these little mechanical wonders. Chopper enthusiasts got to live out their fantasies in video games like Super Cobra and the realistic heli-flight simulator Steel Talons, but the day of glass-enclosed piloting had passed.