Put on just about any action film and, chances are, a helicopter will be making an appearance. Yes, helicopters are cool, able to manoeuvre elegantly even as they spit down fiery death on those below. But just how accurate are action movies when it comes to helicopters? In most cases, not very.

The fact is that although modern helicopters are exceptionally well designed, the hardware does still have strict limitations. Here are some helicopter scenes in films that actually get the logistics mostly right.

Apocalypse Now

As far as plot is concerned Apocalypse Now is purposefully disturbing, pushing heavy anti-war sentiment. But all respect to Francis Ford Coppola for staying true to reality as far as military hardware is concerned. It almost goes without saying that a film directed by Coppola is going to get logistics right; the man isn’t exactly known for taking artistic license. At least not as far as physics is concerned.

The famous scene involves military helicopters flying over a jungle ravaged by the Vietnam war. The addition of Wagner’s Flight Of The Valkyries makes the moment truly iconic.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Yes, you read right; Terminator 2: Judgement Day. A few hard-core aviation experts might immediately be jumping up and call shenanigans. But hang on, let’s just take a closer look.

Yes, the action scenes in T2 get a little outrageous, including a particularly memorable moment where a police helicopter chases a car down a highway. But let it not be forgotten that it is a highly advanced robot from the future doing the flying.

Assuming that the robot has supernatural flying skills, which it apparently does, then yes the scenes are surprisingly accurate. Which is to say; the movie helicopter doesn’t do anything it isn’t actually capable of in real life.

Black Hawk Down

If you’re a military enthusiast you probably read the words Black Hawk Down, immediately guffawed, then perhaps considered clicking off to check out some of the bingo Australia prefers. But again, let’s remember what we’re talking about here. Yes, there are plenty of questionable moments in the film, some that might even make a real soldier burst out laughing.

The depictions of the Black Hawk, on the other hand, are mostly flawless. As far as what a Black Hawk is capable of, and what it’s used for, the movie gets it mostly right. We can discuss the handful of apparently bulletproof soldiers versus a small army trope some other time.


Last on our list is Platoon, another anti-war film that is aiming to do anything but glorify conflict. The actual depiction of the Vietnam War in the film is questionable, with everything from the use of weapons to the behaviour of soldiers being a little iffy. Case in point; its debatable if bullet riddled American soldiers ever really dramatically fell to their knees, arms stretched towards heaven. Chances are in reality they just died.

With that being said there is no question that the depiction of helicopters in Platoon, and how they were during the Vietnam War, is pretty accurate.

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