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You see them too, right?
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. Though it should be obvious, helicopters are actually very, very terrible at stealth.
There is simply no way to make them completely quiet, they have next to zero endurance, they are slow, vulnerable, ruinously expensive, and restricted to low altitudesnote
. Even the now-infamous super-secret Seal Team 6 choppers had slight noise reduction and were only cloaked to radar,
and even that was imperfect. Military Plane-Spotters,
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.
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Anime and Manga
- Hypnos from Digimon Tamers has black helicopters, though their effectiveness quickly fades against Mons.
- In Ghost in the Shell, 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. note
- Team Rocket from Pokémon has several black helicopters, often used as Giovanni's transportation of choice.
- The Ministry of Defense uses these in Ga-Rei -Zero- to move their Red Shirt Army about. Lampshaded by the MOE countermeasure team (who've been using Humvees thus far), who comment they're probably trying to show off. Until the final episode, in which the team gets stuck in traffic while moving to intercept Yomi and the SDF gives them a lift.
- In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman has the Batcopter. It has the appropriate colour scheme. note
- The last time Batman had a Batcopter in any other franchise or medium it wasn't one of these owing to Batman's comic book color schemes.
- Sheba, the black helicopter used to transport the Suicide Squad.
- In Sin City: Hell And Back, the Big Bad has a black military helicopter which factors heavily in the climax.
- 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
- 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. note
- Airwolf was intended to be one of these, until its test pilot made off with it to become Heroes R Us. Its actually painted dark brown with a white belly.
- JAG: In 1st season episode “Sightings”, Colombian drug smugglers use a helicopter equipped with lights and low-frequency emitters, appearing as a UFO, to scare away the locals from an abandoned navy base in Texas where they had an underground processing facility.
- 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.
- The Cold War Day of the Jackboot mini-series Amerika has the Dirty Communists flying over the United States in helicopters reused from Blue Thunder. Except they're no longer blue.
- The Nikita episode "Kill Jill" had the black helicopters turn out to be from a Division cleanup crew covering up the fact that the crashed airliner they were cleaning was running drugs.
- Used on The X-Files in various episodes and in the 1998 movie, as is appropriate for a series full of mysterious conspiracies.
- L.O.U.G.H.B.O.R.O.U.G.H. from Nebulous maintain a fleet of black copters.
- In Pokémon Live! Giovanni carries Professor Oak and Delia away by dangling them in cages from an (offscreen) helicopter.
- Nick loves being this trope; his Character Blog used to have the subtitle "They said I was a weather balloon".
- 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.
- Welcome to Night Vale features them as (probably) helicopters of the World Government, which are "not safe" for children to play around, for unspecified reasons. On the other hand, the Night Vale Sheriff's Secret Police have Blue helicopters, which "only occasionally" take children. Then there are the helicopters painted with murals of diving birds of prey. Nobody knows who owns these helicopters, and the Sheriff's Secret Police advises parents who see these helicopters to take their children home immediately and lock themselves in until a Secret Policeman leaves a carnation at the door. These helicopters--black, blue, and diving-bird-of-prey-painted--are probably the most "normal" thing in Night Vale.
- And it turns out the real threat comes from yellow helicopters...owned by Strexcorp Synernists, Inc..
- Incidentally, the people with the diving-bird-of-prey-painted helicopters eventually did take all of Night Vale's children...but brought them back, essentially unharmed. When the owners of the yellow helicopters were accused of something nefarious, the (still unidentified) owners of the diving-bird-of-prey helicopters evinced disgust, and pointed out that they at least had returned the children.
- The TRUTH About Black Helicopters
- Their frequent use was lampshaded in Kim Possible:
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.
- 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.
- The Quiet One, a "Hughes 500 Penetrator". Built in the 1970s with experimental noise reduction technology, these were used for at least one intelligence gathering mission in Vietnam. Of course they were not black but looked exactly like other civilian machines used by the cover company
- 23 such helicopters (identified as Boeing CH-47 Chinooks) were said to have surrounded a mysterious object that irradiated three civilians, in the Cash-Landrum Incident.
- In reality covert helicopters used domestically are simply unmarked with civilian paintjobs as having no markings would make it extremely distinctive. The NYPD is known to operate one.
They said it was a weather balloon