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Future Copter

You're in an unspecified future, and you need an aircraft capable of short or vertical takeoffs. Helicopters are so 20th century: they can't do all that fancy supercruising and barrel rolls that jets can do and they (probably) can't survive being dropped from orbit because well, hey, you might just need to be dropped from orbit. So you don't want a helicopter, but you also don't want anything as conventional looking as a jump-jet, either.

What you need is a futurecopter. These machines come in a variety of sizes, ranging from dinky sized models about the size of an RC toy, a one-man unit (with optional handholds on the sides for external passengers), through unmanned autonomous versions (best steer well clear of these) the size of a Hummer, right up to beasts the size of a civil cruiser capable of transporting dozens of fully armed troops complete with an airlifted Awesome Personnel Carrier or a Cool Tank. Size and operation aside, what they almost invariably have is ducted fans (one each side of the fuselage, and usually independently tiltable) for lift and thrust, a V-tail and stubby, vestigial wings with an assortment of guns, missiles and bombs, if there were any wings at all. And, in compliance to the all-powerful Rule of Cool, you can expect the aircraft to be as fast as a jet, as slick as a helicopter and as armed as a fighter-bomber. The pilot, if present, is invariably right up front in what looks like a conventional helicopter gunship cockpit.

There are currently no production manned aircraft that look anything like this, for sound aerodynamic and engineering reasons which are unrelated to the Rule of Cool. They are being developed, however, and at the time of writing (2011) probably the nearest to production is the Urban Aeronautics Airmule. One might, with some imagination, consider existing tilt-rotor aircraft like the V-22 Osprey to be a very primitive version of this idea, although its rotors/propellers are firmly locked together and very much not ducted, and it has big, conventional wings. Some of the contenders for the US Army's Future Vertical Lift program have taken tentative steps toward the idea.

For the portable version, see Helicopter Pack.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The JSSDF VTOLs from Neon Genesis Evangelion have tilting jet engines.
  • Vehicles like this are seen in the first episode of Bubblegum Crisis
  • Ghost in the Shell has Tiltrotors, a dual-engine plane whose wings rotate upward 90 degrees in order to take off in standard VTOL style.
    • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, these are the standard method of transportation in service for Section Nine, as well as the requisite black choppers. Some civilian airports use them as well, though standard jet-engine airliners exist too.
      • They have standard single-rotor helicopters as well. Section 9 has to steal one from the Japan Ground Self Defense Force in order to resolve a conflict in the 2nd season. the JSDF also employs Jigabachi-class attack helicopters, which are designed after hornets. When getting ready to attack, the helicoptor rears back and aims the minigun on its abdomen towards its target. The wasp-fashioned attack helicopters make for an interesting animal motif, considering that the tanks in this setting are all of the Spider Tank variety, fitting in with one standard mission of attack choppers: Tank busting.
    • Innocence throws in a bird theme by featuring a tiltrotor whose wings extend outward upon takeoff, and the wings themselves are made up of numerous individual lift flaps. One scene shows the raven-like tiltrotor landing on top of a rooftop, and the individual flaps of the wings look like feathers.

    Comic books 
  • The Zorglumobile from Spirou and Fantasio looks like a flying saucer (especially in profile), but is actually a quad ducted-fan machine.

    Film 
* The 1930's sci-fi musical Just Imagine, everyone has a personal airplane with vertical rotor ducts in the wings enabling them to hover while they talk to other drivers or burst into song.
  • The human forces in Avatar have helicopter sized ducted-fan gunships and at least one much, much bigger one.
  • The Hunter-Killer craft from Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day are of the ducted-fan VTOL type. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines features small, autonomous prototypes which pursue the heroes.
  • In Aliens, the Colonial Marines' dropship is a fully spaceworthy version of the design.
  • The Incredibles features one flown by the mooks guarding the Supervillain Lair.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a future helicopter pilot in The 6th Day. Naturally, the copters he flies are Futurecopters, with the ability to switch to a high speed jet mode and be flown remotely using a Power Glove-like arrangement.
    • Oddly enough, the villain, being much wealthier than Arnold's character, flies around in a much more mundane Presentcopter, with the ability to switch from a helicopter to a helicopter parked on a helipad.
  • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence: the amphibicopter notable not only for If It Swims, It Flies but for lacking rotors while still serving as a helicopter.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, the Batman is equipped with a Futurecopter known as... The Bat. It's available in black.
  • Team America: World Police have their own Futurecopter that deploys from the mouth of Abraham Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore.
  • The federal police copters in Total Recall (2012).
  • Oblivion (2013) : The V/TOL craft that Jack flies around, the "Bubble Ship". With guns (which can fire in any direction, even straight backwards), autopilot (and remote piloting), ejecting cockpit, voice-recognition lock, remotely-accessible surveillance cameras, storage space for a Cool Bike, and the capacity to fly up to space.
  • Sleeper - in 2173 we'll have helicopter backpacks...but they won't work very well.
  • Alongside real-world V-22's, Transformers: Dark of the Moon sees a fictional "quad tiltrotor" that seems to function as a heavy transport aircraft. A Chinook to the Osprey's Blackhawk, so to speak.
  • Orbit-capable versions of these machines seem common on Earth in Elysium, and the main antagonist, Kruger, spends a fair proportion of the movie getting about in a particularly heavily-armed one. Oddly, however, on Elysium itself, more conventional rotorcraft seem to be preferred (probably to avoid polluting the air?).

    Live Action TV 

    Literature 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Nurglite blight drones from Warhammer 40,000, and Imperial Stormtalons.
  • Generic RPG supplement Booty and the Beasts. The Whirly Chair is exactly what it says: a chair with overhead helicopter rotors. It has a maximum speed of 30 m.p.h. and a range of 300 miles on a tank of alcohol. It seats one person and has a small cargo area, enough for a small overnight bag or suitcase.
  • BattleTech features several futuristic VTOL vehicles, such as the Aeron and Yasha. The massive Anhur and Karnov transport VTOLs both use tiltrotor engines like those on the V-22 Osprey.

    Toys 
  • Mega Force (Kenner Toys)
  • Many newer (post-1990) LEGO sets with a futuristic theme.
  • Although he didn't turn into one in the movie (rather, he turned into anything he wanted to), Laserbeak from Transformers: Dark of the Moon turned into one of these in the toyline.

    Video Games 
  • Halo 3: One-man aircraft called Hornets, which have external handles allowing other players to hitch a ride. The Pelican dropship is a pretty close cousin of the dropship from Aliens, and is similarly orbital-drop capable.
    • And in Halo: Reach, the Hornet is exchanged for the Falcon, extremely similar to the V-22 Osprey but smaller, with LM Gs on the open sides and jet engines.
  • The GDI Orca and its variants from the Tiberium series of Command & Conquer are ducted-rotor/jet-engine VTOLs. Some variants go as far as being a Drop Ship.
    • Nod counterparts eventually surfaced in the second half of the entire series, and somehow turned the tables on GDI in air superiority.
    • However, the Tiberian Dawn version of the Orca is something of a subversion - since Tiberian Dawn is set in the year it was originally released, it isn't a "future" copter.
  • Battlefield 2142 has two futurecopters from two opposing sides of the conflict (the Talon for the EU and the Doragon for the PAC).
  • Starcraft II's Medivac dropship and Banshee ground attack vehicle use ducted fans.
  • One of the trailers for the Beyond Good & Evil sequel feature a craft like this.
  • The Chrysalis Pod in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is an automated drone example of this.
  • Combine gunships from Half-Life 2 have a single ducted fan.
  • Enclave Vertibirds in the Fallout series are clearly inspired by the V-22 Osprey.
  • The ducted fan "hovercopter" in Perfect Dark, and Killian's VTOL tilt-jet troop transport/gunship in PD Zero.
  • Red Faction II has ducted fan gunships.
  • Soldier of Fortune II has two boss fights with an Osprey expy gunship, although it is considerably smaller and the rotors can tilt independently unlike the real Osprey. A legitimate helicopter makes an appearance in a couple earlier missions.
  • G-Police featured a pilotable helicopter - with no rotor blades at all. In fact, you flew the entire first game in two different types. The second introduced different types of vehicles.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has two very different futurecopters. The impressive-sounding MQ-27 Dragonfire is actually a small RC quadrotor with a light machine gun on board. The more boringly-named VTOL Warship, by contrast, is a huge, manned, heavily armed vehicle of comparable size to the real-world V-22 Osprey.
  • MechWarrior Living Legends has two Dummied Out transport VTOLs, the Karnov and Anhur, both of which are massive tiltrotor craft that were originally planned to carry battlearmor and small vehicles - problems with the vehicles bouncing around in the back, crushing all the other riders then exploding the craft, along with a aircraft physics change caused both to be put on the development backburner.
  • Almost all aircraft in PlanetSide 2 operate using gimballed jet engines, which function like the tiltrotors on an Osprey. The Galaxy transport, for example, gets a pair of huge engines on its front wings and a smaller pair on its rear wings, all of which can rotate to allow the enormous aircraft to hover in place or fly. The only ones that don't use external rotating engines is the Reaver (in-line vectored engines) and the Scythe (flies using reverse-engineered Vanu technology)

     Web comics 

     Western Animation 
  • Global Justice field tilt-fan VTOL craft when they appear in Kim Possible, and when Ron briefly becomes a multi-millionaire, he buys an aircraft for Kim that resembles an Osprey with jets instead of rotors.
  • Cybertron-mode Megatron from Transformers Animated turns into a Cybertronic VTOL fighter for a split-second in the show's pilot episode. When he is rebuilt in his Earth mode at the end of Season 1, he now turns into yes, a modern V-22 Osprey helicopter.
  • Thrust in Transformers Generation 1 transforms into a ducted fan VTOL jet.
  • In the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers episode "Bronto Bear", the Black hole gang use a futuristic copter to rile up the title Rent-a-Zilla.

     Real Life 
  • Apparently, this lightweight tiltrotor aircraft that wouldn't look out of place in any Twenty Minutes into the Future movie, can fly on purely electric power. While far from production, the prototype already made successful demonstration flights.
  • The X-22, one of the first experimental VTOL designs, featured four large duct-ed rotating propellers for flight, much like in Avatar. Oddly though the aircraft was just suppose to test VTOL flight characteristics, the military never expected to use the duct-ed fans on actual military craft.


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