As seen in: Choplifter (Apple ][)
Also in: Choplifter III (SNES)
Distinguishing feature: Pilots a rescue chopper.
Strengths: Courage under enemy fire.
Weaknesses: Poor resistance to enemy fire.

Profile by Jeremy Parish? | January 3, 2010

Choplifter -- a legendary wartime pilot whose only recorded alias is derived from the military operation in which he was a key figure -- was the unlikeliest of heroes. Delinquent from a young age, he spent his teenage years drifting in and out of street gangs, inciting fights, vandalizing cars, and basically being an indiscriminate menace. But a turning point came shortly after he turned 18 and discovered the perils of legal adulthood: Caught red-handed in the process of helping himself to a five-finger discount at the local Hemphill-Wells, he was taken in and threatened with hard jail time by the furious department store manager.

"You see here," sputtered the manager, a burly immigrant who had worked his way from nothing in order to realize his dream of becoming a franchisee for one of West Texas's favorite shopping mall anchor stores and didn't appreciate thuggish, unambitious kids impinging on his livelihood. "You trow him in jail for many years," he shouted in his heavily-accented English. "Tell him his choplifting days are over!"

And he did go to jail, though it wasn't for years; since it was his first offense as an adult, he spent just a week cooling his heels in the pokey. But a week was enough. The formerly unrepentant youth lay awake each night of that week, wondering if he was destined to be a lowlife forever, marveling at the fortitude of the man who had sent him to jail. That manager had made a good life for himself, and maybe he could do the same. "I want to make something of myself," he mused to himself. "I want to be more than a shoplifter. I want to be… a choplifter."

The problem was, he didn't actually know what a choplifter was. So, aimless again, he enrolled in the military, where he eventually discovered the thrill of piloting helicopters. Eventually, he realized helicopters are called "choppers" and decided to seize on this fortuitous coincidence by becoming a rescue pilot. And soon, he became responsible for the safety of hundreds of people—a true turnaround from his troubled early years.

Of course, he still ended up in prison after losing hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money by repeatedly allowing himself to be shot down, but that's another story altogether.

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