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Heli-hoax: Beware the First of April (Updated)

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on March 30, 2009

Second Update (April 3): Hotelicopter comes clean, sort of. The company says that while the Hotelicopter flying hotel was fake, Hotelicopter is a “new travel brand launching next week.” Much confusion was caused by Hotelicopter using images supplied by Yotel, an actual operator of short-stay airport hotels. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Boing Boing Gadgets has confirmed that the Hotelicopter is not real but a viral publicity campaign for a chain of airport mini-hotels.

I don’t suppose that at this late date anyone should really need a warning to to believe everything they read on the Internet, but over the last couple of days, an assortment of on-line publications, including the gadget blogs Gizmodo and Engadget, managed to bite on a highly improbable story about a giant combination helicopter and luxury hotel called the Hotelicopter.

There were plenty of red flags surrounding the announcement of the Hotelicopter. For one thing, the Soviet MiL V12 helicopter on which it was based never got beyond a prototype in the late 1960s. The “photo” of the Hotelicopter does not look a whole lot like the MiL V12. There’s no indication of how anything this big (and ugly) could have been built and tested without anyone knowing about it nor of how it could possible have gotten FAA certification to carry passengers on a “cruise” from the U.S. in June. And the Hotelicopter Web site provided no information about the company behind the plan, not even contact information.

Some of the blogs that reported on the Hotelicopter did admit to suspicions that the announcement might not be entirely on the up-and-up (Engadget followed its original post with an update suggesting doubts.) Still a little less credulity would have served everyone better. Especially in the week of April Fools Day.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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