It was converted to the "Blue Thunder" by Cinema Air in Carlsbad, California, with assistance from Hughes Heliciopters for the systems. The entire cockpit was removed and replaced by new cabin with flat windows. All sorts of simulated equipment were added outside and inside the cabin. Supposedly it had:
0.787 in (20 mm) barrel cannon
jet turbine engine with boost capability
FLIR (forward-looking infra-red)
TADS (helmet-mounted target acquisition and designation system)
PNVS (pilot night vision sensor)
closed circuit TV-camera with a 100:1 zoom-lens
twin long-range, high-sensitivity shotgun microphones
cabin microphone ¾" code-numbered video-system
whisper-mode for silent flight, etc.
Due to all these changes the max speed was reduced from ± 200 mph (322 kmh) to a merely 90 mph (145 kmh). The superb fast shots in the movie and following TV-series were obtained by maximum speed turns around a swiveling camera. The useful load dropped so dramatically that with half of the maximum 130 gal (493 l) of fuel, only the pilot was aboard during these 'high-speed' runs.
After conversion the aircraft was reregistered N52BT (still to Columbia) on November 16, 1981, on March 21, 1986 it was registered to Michael E. Grube and subsequently scrapped.