Ode to the Bubble

The Bell 47, famous as the star of “Whirlybirds,” was the DC-3 of helicopters. Could it make a comeback?

The trademark plexiglass sphere enclosing its cockpit gave the Bell 47 its nickname and provides the pilot cruising this beach a glorious view of a Florida sunset. (Frank Steinkohl)
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At the Bell company’s academy in Fort Worth, Texas, where pilots and mechanics train on its turbine helicopters, managers hold a weekly drawing. The winner gets a coveted prize: a ride in the academy’s lone remaining Model 47.

For this feature, Mark Huber relied on his mother’s recollection of his first helicopter ride in a Bell 47. When Mrs. Huber learned that her son would be paid for writing this story, she immediately asked for the return of her $5.

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