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What Black Helicopters? - Elf M. Sternberg
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What Black Helicopters?

What Black Helicopters?
This black helicopter was flying over Seattle in a vaguely grid-like pattern, going back and forth between the docks and the sports arenas. It had a definite military look to it, with the camera pod mounted above the blades, and something slung underneath it that had slight independent movement. It was just a little weird.

I'm also kinda disappointed that the phrase "What black helicopters?" has more or less disappeared from the Internet, by the way. It used to be one of the semi-official mottos of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy.

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Current Mood: curious curious
Current Music: Nightwish, Wishmaster

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Comments
rhonan From: rhonan Date: January 8th, 2009 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
That's the team from Google working on their new NSA view feature for Google Maps that they will be rolling out in a few months.
From: technoshaman Date: January 8th, 2009 07:54 am (UTC) (Link)

That's not a camera pod above the blades, that's a commo pod. The camera is the thingy moving independently below.

Jive turkeys are at it again...
rapier From: rapier Date: January 8th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Looks like one of these jobbers, the OH-58 Kiowa, an army reconnaissance helicopter. Definitely seems weird to have that thing flying around over Seattle. Did you wave at it? ^_^

I never quite understood how something like that can fly with that thermal imaging whatsit on top. Seems like it should fall over or get knocked off in a stiff wind.
lucky_otter From: lucky_otter Date: January 8th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
From the profile, it doesn't look like a Kiowa. See how narrow it is? The Kiowa is much wider, with two seats. This looks like a single-seater. The sensor pod on top does look right, though.
phred1973 From: phred1973 Date: January 8th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aye, it's all about distance and angles - It's a -D-model Kiowa Warrior, alright.

Despite being a side-by-side two-seater, they really aren't that wide. No bulky armor plating on the sides to get int he way. The doors are thin and light, and even easily removed (and can fly without, even!).

Manufacturer (Bell Helicopter)'s site: http://www.bellhelicopter.com/en/aircraft/military/bellOH-58D.cfm

A good shot showing the relative size (several people around): http://tri.army.mil/LC/CS/Csa/oh-58d2.jpg
(Deleted comment)
murakozi From: murakozi Date: January 8th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
My first thought was that it's an AH-64 Apache, but the shape and lack of wheels kind of rules that out.

From the narrow body, skids, and overall shape, it looks to be an AH-1F, otherwise known as the Modernized Cobra. One of these critters:

http://www.armyav.org/1135378.jpg

It's apparently flying away from the camera in your photo, which makes it hard to pick out some details to verify this, though. While the odds are that it's an AH-1F, there are a couple things that suggest it might not be. One is the lack of 'wings' on the sides from which weapons or electronics pods can be hung. The other is that it appears to have four rotor blades, where as the Cobra only has 2.

phred1973 From: phred1973 Date: January 8th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's an OH-58D. I'm an Apache mechanic.

The '-58D is an armed, 4-bladed, 2-person variant of the old vietnam-and-later-era 'Kiowa' UNarmed recon/scout helos.

The rails on its skids can carry either a .50cal, a small (7-shot) pod of 2.75" rockets, or two Hellfire anti-armor laser-guided missiles (which is the Apache's traditional main weapon of choice - the chain gun is a last-resort 'we-ran-into-trouble/targets of opportunity-on-the-way-back-to-rearm/refuel' weapon.
phred1973 From: phred1973 Date: January 8th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Elf, it's an OH-58D 'Kiowa Warrior' - an armed recon/scout helicopter. The ball on top is a collection of cameras/night vision system and a laser designator.

The 'black' paint is a very very dark green, chemical-resistant paint, that really does look black.

Not sure what the thing you said you saw 'slung underneath' could be - I only see the weapons rails (on the skids) and the bottom red flashing nav light in this picture.

phred1973 From: phred1973 Date: January 8th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Looking at the bigger pic on flickr, this one is wearing a rocket pod on the left side rail, and a single (Dummy, probably with an active seeker training head) Hellfire on the outer rail of the right skid. This picture is taken from the tail end.

Wonder what they were looking for, or were just logging hours (Gotta fly to stay trained, after all)

The nice thing about Kiowas is they just never seem to break, and are small enough that everything is easy to get to. Apaches, on the other hand, are a royal PITA.
abostick59 From: abostick59 Date: January 9th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aha! Microsoft is getting ready to release it's competitor to Google Maps Street View!
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