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Hughes 500 helicopters in Race for the Yankee Zephyr
aerial sequence with two helicopters

Race For The Yankee Zephyr (aka: Treasure Of The Yankee Zephyr, 1981) - this Australian movie, featuring lots of great helicopter action, was made in New Zealand. Following a WW2 prologue, the film starts with a Hughes 500C plus a 500D used in a breathtaking aerial sequence as demo for the airborne hunting of deer, caught in a net and hauled away, suspended beneath a helicopter.

Hughes 300 in Race for the Yankee Zephyr
There's a Hughes 300 (269C) joining this hunting spree, but Gibbie (Donald Pleasence) is - perhaps accidentally - hooked on a rope and then dropped from the airborne chopper into a lake. Gibbie's daughter, heroine Sally (Lesley Ann Warren), does not believe the old Hughes 300 is safe to fly in, but pilot Barney (Ken Wahl) leaves her with no choice, later on...

deer chase in Race for the Yankee Zephyr

While grounded for repairs, the little helicopter becomes another quirky 'character' in this daredevil story, when Barney uses its whirling rotors to blow mud at the chief villain (George Peppard), whose henchman plants a tracking device on the Hughes 300, before Barney flies into town, landing on the local jetty and ferry pier, scattering bystanders.

Hughes 300 repair job
helicopter lands on pier

JetRanger in Race for the Yankee Zephyr
Bell 206 chases Hughes 300

Barney picks up Gibbie, and reluctant passenger Sally, leaving town in a hurry, pursued by the bad guys in their Bell 206 JetRanger III. Along the scenic routes, the Hughes 300 gets engine trouble, and (sadly, marking the 'death' of a machine character!) crash-lands in the mountains, but our heroic trio survive unscathed.

The helicopter's wreckage is soon towed by tractor off to a nearby farmstead, where some welders attach the helicopter's broken cabin onto an old caterpillar-track wheelbase, although this makeshift getaway vehicle is destroyed when it falls down a hillside, while Barney & Co escape from the villains.
helicopter wreckage turned into land vehicle

With the JetRanger again in pursuit of running heroes, a rifleman on the low-flying helicopter keeps shooting at them, and he drops a net onto Gibbie, who is hauled away like a captured deer. From the bad guys' campsite, the Bell 206 continues flying around while searching for Barney and Sally.
net drops from hunter's JetRanger

JetRanger trails smoke
Bell 206 lands by river

Before the speedboat chase, the hero manages to sabotage the JetRanger, so it's forced into an emergency landing on the riverbank, where the helicopter's engine catches fire, and it explodes after the chief henchman (Bruno Lawrence) has jumped to safety. Overall, this action caper movie is a superb comedy-adventure, and it boasts many excellent flying sequences over spectacular landscapes.

Race for the Yankee Zephyr poster
Region 4 DVD for RYZ movie

Picture adverts for this movie, includes poster artwork (above left), and cover for the region 4 DVD release (above right), both of which are obviously accurate in their depiction of helicopters in Race For The Yankee Zephyr...

However, Region 1 sleeve artwork for alternative title Treasure Of The Yankee Zephyr, features a trio of Russian military helicopters (Mil Mi-24 Hind gunships) which do not appear in the film. Shame, not truth, in advertising! Region 1 DVD for Treasure of the Yankee Zephyr

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