Black Helicopter

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You see them too, right?


Unmarked helicopters
Hovering

They said it was a weather balloon
Soul Coughing

The aliens are closing in, the terrorists are priming the warhead, the President's hijacked motorcade is arriving, or perhaps the loveable band of hackers is about to uncover the Government Conspiracy. Whatever the situation, The Men in Black need to arrive in style, and there is only one way to do that: the Black Helicopter.

Half Cool Plane, half Silent Runner, the Black Helicopter is to secret agents what the Batmobile is to Batman. Fast, quiet, stealthy, powerful, almost invisible and, of course, pitch-black, nothing screams cover-up quite like a black helicopter. Black Vans with radar dishes provide ground support, but aren't nearly as cool.

A somewhat dubious Truth in Television, as Black Helicopters are an ingredient of many real-life conspiracy theories. Possibly influenced by dark painted helicopters that get mistaken for black in poor lighting conditions while performing disappointingly mundane operations.

In Real Life if a helicopter was involved in sinister operations it would probably not be painted black—to avoid the trope and avoid sticking out like a sore thumb.


Examples of Black Helicopter include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Hypnos from Digimon Tamers has black helicopters, though their effectiveness quickly fades against Mons.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Section 9 use gray V-22 Type tiltrotors and smaller Hind-like helicopters, while the JSDF use transport helicopters and gunships, including AI-piloted Jigabachi AV helicopter (the most menacing in the series). They are designed to look like their namesakes—Jigabachi is the Japanese name for a type of mud-dauber wasp—the Jigabachi AV has a large gun pod that hangs beneath the rest of the helicopter and can swivel in any direction to unleash Death From Above. The most sinister aspect is that the AI pilots have gone rogue.[1]
  • Team Rocket from Pokémon has several black helicopters, often used as Giovanni's transportation of choice.

Card Games[edit | hide]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • Conspiracy Theory had Mel Gibson's character paranoid about (among other things) undetectable, silent, black CIA helicopters. At the end of the movie it's revealed that it's one of his many paranoias that are true.
  • Blackout from the Transformers movie. Megatron in Transformers Animated is also a futuristic helicopter. The Sector 7 agency also has a few of these choppers, which are used to try and track down the Autobots and for prisoner transport.
  • The titular machine in Blue Thunder is a Black Helicopter with stealth capabilities, advanced surveillance equipment, and a really big freaking gun. The movie involves a Government Conspiracy centered around its use, and the hero ends up stealing it for the climactic aerial showdown.
  • Blade is carried to a meeting with a vampire lord in Blade II by a Black Helicopter.
  • Minority Report: The scary black future helicopters/jump-jets used by the police, bordering on all-out Cool Plane.
  • Capricorn 1 has a government conspiracy to fake a human landing on Mars. The conspiracy is enforced by black helicopters to creepy effect, with behaviour more like dark wraiths than human piloted machines.
  • Given the premise of They Live!, it would be almost more surprising if there weren't some of these. With fun bonus of alien helicopter sound silencers, no less.
  • GoldenEye: A super-helicopter, immune to EMP effects, is hijacked and promptly used to steal the GoldenEye.
  • Air Force One begins with a black helicopter operation.
  • The original Predator (1987) has Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team being inserted into the guerrillas' jungle hideout area by a genuine, CIA-owned UH-1N Huey, painted semigloss black. However, the two escorting Huey gunships, being owned by the local friendly government's army, are painted a more sensible jungle green.
  • In Cypher, the legendary spy Sebastian Rooks designs and pilots a black helicopter.
  • Cars 2: A black helicopter used by the Lemons is used to carry Finn McMissile away from the race in Italy with his magnet near the end as an attempt to prevent him from foiling their evil plans. The Lemon helicopter then flies McMissile to London and leaves him, Mater, and Holly Shiftwell to be crushed to death by the gears of a giant clock as the Lemons proceed to wreak havoc on the final race there.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Dan Brown's Deception Point, late in the novel, the antagonists use an unmarked black Kiowa Warrior helicopter.
  • American Gods: The valkyries in Neil Gaiman's novel manifested as black helicopters.
  • In the Heroes in Hell series, Achilles had picked up pilot training and flew a stealthy black helicopter loaded with spy gear and a 30mm chain gun on covert operations for, among others, Gaius Julius Caesar.
  • Futuretrack Five by Robert Westall featured a special police force known as Paramils who flew around in black psycopters, named because of the psycho-radar they carried, which allowed them to monitor the mental states of the population and detect people via the presence of human brain patterns.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Martin Lloyd in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Point of No Return" believes in black helicopters, among other things. Ironically, this one of his conspiracy theories that is incorrect in the Stargate Verse—everything else is true, including The Men in Black, aliens, and even his belief that he is an alien. [3]
  • Airwolf was intended to be one of these, until its test pilot made off with it to become Heroes-R-Us.
  • Parodied in Mystery Science Theater 3000, when one movie shows the hero being tailed by a private helicopter.

Crow: It's one of those UN black helicopters, except...white and orange.
Mike: Exactly what they would do!

  • House: House refuses to believe the guy who just asked for his services is really with the CIA until they step onto the roof and find a Black Helicopter waiting.

CIA guy: It helps when you have props.

Music[edit | hide]

  • The band Soul Coughing has a song called "Unmarked Helicopters" all about this trope. Appropriately enough, it first appeared on a soundtrack CD for The X-Files.
  • Non-Phixion "Black Helicopters":

"Open up your third eye, Black Helicopters in the sky"

  • Canadian artist Matthew Good has a song called "Black Helicopter" on his 2007 album Hospital Music.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • L.O.U.G.H.B.O.R.O.U.G.H. from Nebulous maintain a fleet of black copters.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The protagonist of Deus Ex gets ferried around in one, and there are references to others throughout the game. Amusingly, the stealth aspect does not work—an in-game newspaper article mentions sightings. Naturally, UNATCO use this as a reason for why they aren't real:

Manderly: If black helicopters were really being used for 'covert operations,' then those responsible are doing a poor job of it.

  • Conspiracy nut Boyd Cooper's level on Psychonauts is packed with black helicopters.
  • Appropriately, the Black Ops teams from Half-Life: Opposing Force use black helicopters.
  • Max Payne is attacked by an unmarked black helicopter gunship during the final stages of the game, which the Big Bad, Nicole Horne, tries to use to make her getaway. Max sends an antenna crashing down right on top of it, killing everyone inside.
  • The Turks in Final Fantasy VII and its spinoffs travel around in black helicopters.
  • The black helicopters in Mirrors Edge serve the purpose of deploying Pirandello Krueger's Elite Mooks (which is as close as it gets to The Men in Black in that game) to wherever they are most likely to gun Faith down. Oh, and there's a Government Conspiracy, alright.
  • The protagonist of the Douglas Adams text adventure Bureaucracy doesn't encounter any black helicopters, but they're the topic of one of the Copy Protection questions you may be asked.
  • The Demonic Spiders of Spy Hunter.
  • Done with some twists in Prototype. What these helicopters lack in silence, they make up for with firepower; starting out with one Blackhawk that deploys a squad of fast-roping Marines every now and then, and eventually working up to three Black Apaches determined to send you to Missile Hell. However, they still evoke that cool paranoia factor whenever they show up.

A player can actually tell apart the Marine and Blackwatch vehicles (the latter of which are actually slightly tougher) from each other. Marine vehicles are have a typically military tan-color, while Blackwatches stuff is... well black. So not only are there Black Helicopters, but also Black Tanks as well.

  • The villains in Far Cry use black V-22 Ospreys.
  • The Russian Mafia in Mercenaries have an exceedingly rare helicopter that may show up once or twice, and is obviously a Ka-50 or Ka-52, much like the page image. You have to steal it from them/steal one back for them (after the NK seized it) for one mission.
  • The Soviet army in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 fields Twinblades, commissar helicopters. One of them tries to assassinate Premier Cherdenko, although he faked it to frame Krukov in a cutscene.
  • StarCraft II: Fluff suggests this was the idea behind the Banshee gunship, a fast, cloak-capable turbofan gunship built by The Empire to terrorize colonies who got funny ideas.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

Tip: We've got a black helicopter! You know what that makes us? An officially intimidating secret organization!


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In Lonelygirl15, black helicopters are used by the Order. Helicopters - not always black—also fly overhead in a number of episodes, often Foreshadowing danger.
  • The Register made a regular feature of looking for black helicopters on Google Earth.
  • Usenet has featured the newsgroup alt.conspiracy.black.helicopters for years now.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

Ron: So, what are the chances that they're not after us?
Kim: They're black helicopters, Ron. They're always after us.

  • South Park - Black helicopters appear in the background throughout the conspiracy-themed episode "Cartman Gets An Anal Probe".

Rancher: What the hell was that?
Officer Barbrady: That...that was just a pigeon.

  • The Metalocalypse black helicopter is sinister for other reasons.
  • In the 2003 animated series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in the third season, the turtles manage to acquire a government helicopter belonging to a secret government agency, and make it their own.
  • Of coure Dale Gribble in King of the Hill makes a mention of it after hearing a suspicious noise

Dale Gribble: Must be one of those new silent UN black helicopters, as you can hear they're still working out the bugs.

  • American Dad: In "G-String Circus", when Deputy CIA Director Bullock finds out they need to spend their remaining budget immediately or face cutbacks, Stan's whole department immediately rolls out in Black Vans and Black Helicopters to the nearest strip club, XanaBoobs.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons Movie, where they are used by the EPA.
  • Airachnid from Transformers Prime has a Black Helicopter as her alt form.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The man in this video is under the firm belief that a "rogue" helicopter is following him for reasons that are unclear but have something to do with the government... probably. Subverted in that this one is white for some reason.
  • Helicopters are said to routinely patrol the border of the fabled Area 51 military facility in the Nevada desert. Some claim the helicopters more or less harass you by flying low and stiring up dust.
  • The page image is Kamov's Ka-50 Black Shark or Ka-52 Alligator. Notice how it has no tail rotor? It's a coaxial design, meaning the two rotors rotate in opposite directions on the same shaft, thereby stopping the helicopter from spinning like a top, and also lacking that much more vulnerable tail rotor.
  • The US Navy SEALs who took out Osama Bin Laden apparently operated helicopters that while not exactly black, were designed with stealth capability, the tail section of one being shown ad-nauseam on international news when the chopper crashed and the SEALs had to blow the rest of it up to keep it secret. The helicopter was apparently a heavily modified version of the UH-60 Blackhawk that was not known to exist outside of high-level military and government circles.
  • The US Department of Homeland Security operates black-painted helicopters. They are not very mysterious, being gloss black with a gold band, large Homeland Security markings, and a blue flashing light.
  1. It is only the Maritime SDF's Oniyama gunship/transports, that have a huge gatling and several smaller ones in the nose, and the Jigabachi AV prototype, that are painted black; the rest of the Ground SDA's rotorcraft are painted army green, including the baseline Jigabachi.
  2. The action figure has been around for a while.
  3. Martain believes some nonsense as well: CIA microwave probes, various improbable things about the Kennedy assassination, etc. Fictional settings play havock with delusional characters!