Helicopters Were Cool Once, and Young


There was a time, sometimes referred to as “The Nineteen Eighties”, when nothing was cooler than a helicopter. Hot cars? Sure. But the most extreme, the most awesomely radical heroes, all rode or piloted helicopters. They had ridiculous names like “Stringfellow Hawke”, and it didn’t even matter, because they were pilots, and had experimental stealth attack helicopters hiding inside mountains.

And the actual pilots, the stunt pilots that pushed these machines in between buildings, or into car chases under bridges and power lines? Pretty much all of them were Vietnam veterans. Probably no coincidence most of the show characters were ex-Vietnam vets turned private eyes. That was cool, too.

Unfortunately a couple of high profile on-set accidents (Twilight Zone: The Movie was the most tragic) led to significant safety reform, and that was pretty much the end of helicopters in tv or film as anything other than transportation. Now whenever you see an actor near a running helicopter, the rotors are CG, and if the budget is low they don’t even spring for the wind machine to blow their hair around.

But I’ll never forget that special time, the era when cars chased helicopters chasing cars.