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This VR Experience Will Save Your Life

Hanging on and hoisted out of treacherous waters.

What started as a clear afternoon boat ride with friends, immediately took a turn for the worse. Within a matter of minutes, your vessel smashes itself on some out of place rocks and a hurricane rolls in with gusts of wind and rain. This looks like it may be the end.

But as if through some sort of divine intervention, within seconds your mayday distress call is answered. A glorious AW189 search and rescue helicopter swoops down from above and lowers a rescue hoist. You strap yourself and begin the ascent. Wind and mist blow down on your face. And just like that, you’re safe on board the chopper. It looks like you’ll be able to make dinner tonight with your mother after all.

This is the latest VR experience from Italian aerospace manufacturer, Leonardo Company. With over 100 years of history in aviation, the company has been selling helicopters for civil and military needs for awhile, often times marketing their rotorcraft at industry conferences around the world.

When it came time to show off their search and rescue AW189 at the largest helicopter trade show in Europe, Helitech Amsterdam, brochures and standard adrenaline pumping videos on display weren’t going to cut it.

Instead, Leonardo Company decided to put buyers in a life or death situation, come in for the rescue, and hopefully sell some helicopters in the process. The VR experience included a Goodrich electric hoist to lift you off the ground, letting you feel like you’re actually being hoisted up while in VR. Two strong fans were installed on the ceiling to simulate hurricane wind and downwash from the helicopter. There was also a refreshing water mist that was squirted onto your face to simulate rain. In conjunction with the sound of thunder, all your senses were firing off, making this a unique experience that most attendees probably won’t forget.

Leonardo Company states that the VR experience was in fact a hit and will likely continue to bring multi-sensory immersive experiences like this to future trade shows. The company is also exploring ways to use VR for training helicopter technicians and assisting design engineers.

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