Holy helicopter, Batman! No, really: For devout fans of the ’60s-era Batman TV series, which ended its short but memorable run 50 years ago in 1968, the Dynamic Duo’s signature orange Batcopter is a Holy Grail-level object. First piloted by Adam West’s stalwart Caped Crusader in the 1966 feature film version of the classic superhero show, the Batcopter’s crime-fighting — and shark-fighting — days are long behind it, but the aircraft is still in fine flying shape, courtesy of the current owner Eugene Nock, who is taking it up for daily flights at New Jersey’s State Fair Meadowlands from June 25 through July 8.
The pilot and proprietor of the Nock Entertainment Group acquired the Bell Helicopter-designed aircraft in 1997, 33 years after it rolled off the assembly line and into service as a guest player in such TV shows as The F.B.I. and The Green Hornet. After its TV career came to an end in the late ’60s, it was used to spot wildfires in California and Oregon. But it made its most lasting impression as the Batcopter, and Nock restored the N3079G to its ’66 glory when it passed into his possession. “Every day we fly this helicopter, it’s as good as the day it was built,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment before taking us up into the friendly skies. “We’re proud to be the stewards of it.”
Over the past two decades, Nock has piloted the Batcopter all around North America, from Florida to Ontario and multiple points in between. (Future pit stops after New Jersey will likely include the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis., and the Turkey Run in Daytona, Fla.) What makes the Batcopter’s lap around the Meadowlands fairgrounds special is that it allows for sweeping views of the real-life Gotham skyline, which inspired writers Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s fictional stand-in.
Born in 1960, Nock grew up reading Batman comics and remembers tuning into the series at the same Bat-time on the same Bat-channel on his family’s new color TV set. “They did a very good job with their version of Batman,” he recalls. “Superman had his following, but Batman ruled. He had a Batcopter, a Batmobile, a Batcycle — all these tools.”
Nock got the chance to meet his childhood Batman (and Catwoman) in 2008 when he landed the Batcopter at the Fleetwood Country Cruize-In in London, Ontario, with West and Julie Newmar sitting beside him. (West and Newmar’s autographs are prominently displayed in the helicopter, along with the signatures of such Batman stars as Burt “Robin” Ward, Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig, and Newmar’s replacement, Lee Meriwether.) “Adam and I had some time together prior to the flight,” Nock says of the actor, who died last year. “We discussed history, life and art, and he asked about the history of the Batcopter. I found him to be a very nice gentleman.” Not to mention a world-class Batman.
The Batcopter is making daily flights at the State Fair Meadowlands from June 25 to July 8.
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