Rotary Action logo by Mike Pepper utility helicopter A GUIDE TO HELICOPTERS  
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Bell 206 in Capricorn 1

Capricorn One (1978) - Peter Hyams' intriguing SF adventure, about a fake manned Mars landing, sees an intrepid journalist (Elliot Gould), who is investigating the cover-up by a crooked NASA chief (Hal Holbrook), team-up with a small town pilot (Telly Savalas), to search the desert and mountains for three missing astronauts (led by James Brolin).

The first helicopter on-screen is a Bell 206 JetRanger, used for transporting the hoodwinked astronauts from the launch-pad area to a jet plane.
JetRanger in Capricorn One

Capricorn One helicopters

sinister helicopters in Capricorn One
A pair of unmarked Hughes OH-6A 'Loach' (Hughes 500 series Cayuse) helicopters pursue the astronauts through a desert, buzzing across the bright skies and flying low, just like a couple of 'little birds' (which is the name given to later helicopters of this model type).

These are the so-called 'black helicopters' - the infamous airborne stalkers featured in so many US government conspiracy theories - but they are dark green (olive drab) in colour, not black. However, Capricorn One is one of the first mainstream-cinema appearances of such sinister machines.

In a scene that mimics an image from Birds Of Prey, the helicopter pilots turn their hovering choppers to face each other, so they can still communicate while maintaining a radio silence that's necessary for their secret mission.

Hughes helicopters in Capricorn 1

When the news reporter arrives in the desert and rents a plane to search for the missing astronauts, the Hughes trackers follow, and then attack, the pilot's old bi-plane crop-duster in a thrilling aerial chase sequence that's consistently entertaining and very well filmed with excellent stunt flying scenes.
stunt flying in Capricorn One

Hughes gunships chase the bi-plane in Capricorn One