Mother Transforms an Old Army Helicopter into a Home Cinema

Combined Shape

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that certainly rings true for those who can see past what is and visualize what could be. That skill is crucial for designers, artists and a whole range of creatives.

Maria Merry definitely has the gift, and at the beginning of this year, she shared the fruit of her labors with the world. The U.K. mom decided to turn an old helicopter into a one-of-a-kind home theater and the results are stunning.

“People are blown away when they see it for the first time — they’re not just impressed, they can’t believe it,” she said during an interview.

But people weren’t always so supportive: They didn’t seem to have the same vision Merry did.

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“And a lot of the people that saw it when it was first delivered and the state it was in, they were like ‘yeah, you can’t do it with that.’ And I said ‘yeah I can.’ I didn’t know what I was going to be able to do, but I had a vision in my head.”

“I’m quite creative. I can never put that down on paper, it just happens.”

Looking at its original state, it’s easy to see why less-ambitious individuals would balk at her idea. The chopper is gutted, wires all over the place and most of the control panel missing. The wear and tear were pretty intense, and it definitely didn’t look like the sort of thing that would be fun to lounge in, let alone be comfortable enough to sit and enjoy a movie in.

But Merry was not daunted. She dropped a cool £950 (around $1,200 U.S.) on the Agusta 109 in what started out as a joke. She and her son were visiting the gift shop of the Weston-super-Mare helicopter museum when they spotted an ad for the downed bird and her son asked if they could get it. She said sure.

A crane and a tidy sum later, the helicopter was in her garage in Chippenham, England, ready for in-depth renovation. On Jan. 15, Merry announced her project on Facebook.

“To all my lovely family & friends,” she wrote, “As some of you know, I posted a picture of a rather derelict helicopter that we decided to buy (perhaps a little impulsively) on our way out of the gift shop at The Helicopter Museum in Weston-Super-Mare in 2017…

“The plan was to turn it into a home cinema and spare bedroom in our garage (and hoping desperately that it would fit). And I’m really sorry to everyone for not being in touch much recently but hopefully you’ll see what I’ve been up to over these past few crazy months if you watch George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Sunday 27th January (with a preview at the end of next week’s show).”

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“Thank you all for putting up with me over these past few months (and more) and for all your support and I’m delighted to announce that normal friendship levels can now resume!”

“Thank you everyone for being so amazingly supportive, excited and brilliant about my project!” she wrote on Jan. 29.

“I can’t thank you enough and even though it may not be to everyone’s taste and I didn’t ask for the publicity (they called me!), it was just something important for me and Freddie and it has achieved all that we wanted it to achieve, which is just a fab, fun chill out space to spend time together.

“I would love all of my amazing family and friends to come and see it whenever you can — my door is always open as you know — and I have been overwhelmed with your love and support so thank you everyone! Love you all xxx”

All told, it took countless hours of hard work and about $13,000 total to get the helicopter to the point where it was usable. It’s a far cry from the piece of scrap it used to be, and now she and her son definitely have a unique space — all because of a joke and an eye for possibility.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking