One of my favourite DC Comics characters is Batman. A superhero that uses his physical strength and sinister appearance as the Dark Knight to spread fear amongst the scum and villainy of Gotham City. What I like most about Batman is he is just a man. Admittedly one with some very handy skills, a vast fortune and of course awesome gadgets and vehicles! The character Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and turned 75 years old in 2014, having first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939.
I read the comics and love the gritty Michael Keaton Batman movies (Batman 1989 and Batman Returns 1992) and the later Christian Bale ones (Batman Begins 2005, The Dark Knight 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises 2012). The Batman movies by other actors in between these were not so great (Batman Forever in 1995 with Val Kilmer and Batman & Robin 1997 with George Clooney. The latter one was a franchise breaker!) but ultimately I grew up watching the campy yet fantastic Batman TV series starring Adam West which ran from 1966 – 1968 (there was also a movie Batman 1966).
The Batman movies had all sorts of great vehicles and aircraft but the most memorable ones were from the 1960’s. There was the Batmobile, the Batboat, the Batcycle and of course the Batcopter! Recently I have seen originals of all of these 1960’s vehicles. The best was seeing the original Batcopter actually fly at the Sun ‘n Fun Air Show in Florida (unfortunately it is missing the bat wings)!
The Batcopter is a customised Bell 47 originally used in the 1966 Batman movie. Twentieth Century Fox did not have the budget to use the helicopter for the Batman TV series so they leased the helicopter from National Helicopter Service for a few days. After filming it was returned to its normal look and went back into operation with National.
The original Bell 47 was later purchased by the Nock Entertainment Group who restored and modified the helicopter with modern avionics and made it look like the Batcopter again. Apparently the bat wings reduced power by 50% so I can see why they were not put back on when it was returned to flight in its current guise!
I mentioned earlier that I have also recently seen some of the other original Batman vehicles. These were all part of the excellent Miami Auto Museum at the Dezer Collection in North Miami, Florida. They have a fantastic display hall dedicated to Batman.