Every Helicopter Is a Huey

Every time the heroes in an action movie or TV show have to go somewhere by helicopter, chances are they'll be doing it in a member of the Bell Huey family. This is justified in Vietnam War movies: the UH-1D Iroquois is a symbol of US involvement in Vietnam, with over 7,000 of them seeing service. As a dedicated troop transport helicopter, it's a natural choice for The Squad - it's hard to roll out after a Lock and Load Montage in an MD-500 which only fits two actors. Their looks also help convey a tough, militaristic feel and suggest a military movie in the way a less easily-recognizable helicopter might not. In a gunship situation, expect two heavily-armed attack choppers flown by nameless pilots in formation with a Huey carrying a named character.

It's not only military action movies that favor the Huey. Their versatility, reliability, ready availability as surplus, low cost, and ease of maintenance has them showing up pretty much every other time a helicopter's needed as well. Hence Bell 204/205/212 helicopters, all civilian Hueys, see very heavy usage for everything from logging to firefighting (it's definitely the single most popular type for Fire/Rescue work) to VIP transport, with Bell continuing to roll new ones off the assembly line even after fifty years in production. Though the US Army started replacing Hueys with Black Hawks as the general-purpose transport helicopter as long ago as 1979, they still keep a lot of them flying for various odd jobsnote . The same is true of the other branches, except the Marine Corps, who not only still use them in a front-line role but are also currently taking delivery of the new and highly-advanced UH-1Y model. It's commonly said in the US Military that when the last Blackhawk is deleted from the inventory, it will be slingloaded to the Boneyard by a Huey.

In the movies they still show up everywhere even now - even places they have no right to be, in countries that never flew them. As a general rule:

  • Hueys have a 50-50 chance of showing up in a fully civilian movie, where Bell JetRangers and other models appear just as often;
  • A somewhat-military movie, or a movie featuring the military that skimped on research, will almost invariably have Hueys and follow this trope;
  • A well-researched military movie will only feature Hueys as appropriate - for instance, when dealing with the Vietnam era, or for Marine Twin Hueys.

Characters in action films are particularly prone to stumbling across them fuelled up, ready to fly and very often fully-armed (often as not with weapons no real Huey ever dreamed of carrying). This is pretty unlikely now never mind 20 Minutes into the Future, but even there everyone will be flying Hueys. In action movies it's likely one of the cast will also know how to pilot one, however unlikely it is they'd have had any chance to learn how. In the few cases that the characters are not travelling in a Huey it's possible it'll still sound like they are, which is rather like suggesting every prop plane sounds like a Cessna. Perhaps because the UH-1 is so ubiquitous that it's just how helicopters are expected to sound.

When the Huey shows up appropriately - for example in period movies and situations where they'd likely be seen - it's just a sign the filmmakers did the research. Its appearance can also be justified as a deliberate stylistic choice where the moviemakers are trying to draw parallels between the events in the movie and The Vietnam War: the rest of the time this trope applies. Then again, the Huey is extremely popular in both the military and civilian worlds even today, so it can be perfectly justified in many settings.

Less likely outside of live-action media, where the cost and availability of aircraft isn't an issue.

This trope is becoming less common as time goes on. More recent films tend to rely more on the Aérospatiale AS350 Squirrel (or its two-engine counterpart, the AS355 Twin Squirrel) as their go-to helicopter of choice. Its sleek look, especially when depicted in black, seems to lend itself to the slicker attitude of more modern action films.

See also Everybody Owns a Ford. Compare Just Plane Wrong.


Examples:

No aversions or justifications, please, otherwise this is going to turn into a list of helicopters in movies. Remember: this trope is about Hueys showing up as a generic helicopter in place of other more logical choices.

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    Film 
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II a 212 is operated by the Russians. While it could be claimed as being on loan from Vietnamese forces inherited from the ARVN, it was not employed by the ARVN (it also mounts an M60E3 machine gun, introduced in the 1980s, long after the Fall of Saigon), and is a civilian 212, not a military UH-1N.
  • Despite being set 20 Minutes into the Future Terminator Salvation features several combat-ready Hueys, or possibly the same one showing up and getting shot down over and over again.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, it's revealed that even in the 23rd Century people will know how to fly Hueys when Sulu uses one to deliver plexiglas.
  • A particularly glaring example in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, when the team are seen being flown over the Thames by a military unit in a pair of Hueys. The British military never used them at all, begging the question of where on earth the team even found them. Did they bring the helicopters with them?

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chris Ryan's Strike Back: The team are shown flying in a Huey, despite the fact that the British military favor the Westland Lynx. Certainly they've never deployed them in Iraq, where the show is set.
  • Combat Hospital: The primary MEDEVAC helicopter for the Kandahar Airfield Role 3 is some kind of Huey. While the Canadian Forces continue to use Twin Hueys, at least one pilot for the helo is American, and the characters most commonly using on the helo are US Air Force Pararescuemen, who would not be using Hueys.

    Western Animation 
  • In spite of its otherwise high-tech setting, the only US military helicopters ever to appear on Transformers Prime are Hueys. For example, Agent Fowler flies one twice, in spite of also having access to the cutting edge F-35 Lightning II jet. Weirdly, though, the Hueys on the show seem to be some kind of fictional gunship variant that mounts the M230 chaingun from the Apache.
    • Fowler's use of the Huey is particularly odd in one episode, as Airachnid scans it and immediately transforms into a sleek stealth helicopter. Given that the CGI model for her alt-mode had already been created, and that Transformer alt-modes have otherwise been identical to their scanned vehicles, it makes you wonder why the animators didn't just give Fowler the stealth chopper for that particular scene.


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