Rotary Action logo by Mike Pepper utility helicopter A GUIDE TO HELICOPTERS  
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Apocalypse Now (1979) - sprawling antiwar movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and inspired by Joseph Conrad's celebrated novel Heart Of Darkness, this extravagant drama boasts the finest and most spectacular helicopter sequence ever filmed.

While on a secret mission to assassinate a renegade American colonel (Marlon Brando) in Cambodia, a troubled US captain (Martin Sheen) on a long river journey, gets air strike support from the crazed officer Lieutenant Colonel (Robert Duvall), who leads his air cavalry in an attack on a Vietcong village stronghold, blasting out Wagner's grandoise Ride of the Valkyries from a loudspeaker system to frighten the natives, and then indulges his darkly comic whim for surfing in the middle of a war zone! (For the ultimate in 'extreme' sports?)

The US Army helicopter squadron are attacked by enemy ground troops, and the morning's fierce battle ends with a napalm bombing which "smells like... victory." During this surreal odyssey, helicopter taxis bring Playboy playmates into an Army camp to entertain the troops, but too many horny GIs endanger the showgirls, and the chopper pilots have to airlift the dancers to safety.
air cavalry in Apocalypse Now
In 2002, Apocalypse Now Redux, a revised director's cut was released, with previously unseen extra footage adding 49 minutes to the already epic running time - making the narrative less episodic, while broadening the scope of the film's nightmarish scale, and ultimately fulfilling its maker's great ambitions for an unforgettable cinema experience.
above the waves in Apocalypse Now
strafing Charlie's point in Apocalypse Now

Notes: "On the morning after the USO show, a Bell OH-58 Kiowa helicopter is seen hovering above and behind the bleachers." - NATHAN DECKER

Comment: "As a pilot, my all time favourite helicopter film has to be Apocalypse Now. My reasons for this are due to its realism. For instance, in the helicopter attack scene the correct sounds for each type of helicopter are used (very important to me for some reason). And when the Hughes 500 is shot down you even hear the 'engine out' audio signal! There's also a moment just prior to this where you get a shot from inside the Hughes 500 and the pilot is talking over the radio, at this moment the distinct sound of the 500 from inside is heard - this is a sound I know only too well." - TONY LOWRY


beach-head landing in Apocalypse Now

Made iconic by the Vietnam War, the Bell UH-1 (Iroquois) Huey ensures that many action scenes in Apocalypse Now look authentic. The Huey which transports Kilgore into battle has "death from above" written below the crossed sabres that symbolise 'airborne cavalry'.
Kilgore's Huey in Apocalypse Now

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