Black helicopter conspiracy theory

From Academic Kids

Black helicopters are part of a conspiracy theory, prevalent among the American militia, that claims that special silent-running "black" helicopters are used by secret agents of the New World Order, United Nations troops and/or the Men in Black preparing to take control of the United States. Thinking they were under surveillance by "black helicopters," the Montana division of the North American Volunteer Militia once tried to shoot down a National Guard helicopter on a training mission which flew over a ranch owned by fugitive militia leader Calvin Greenup.

Parapsychologist John Keel has argued that this theory has origins similar to those of UFOs, ghosts and fairies, i.e. that they are part of modern mythology; in this case, representing a fear of the government and its technology.

The greatest media attention to "black helicopters" was paid in February, 1995, when first-term Republican northern Idaho congressman Helen Chenoweth charged that armed federal agents were landing "black helicopters" (pronounced "heliocopters") on Idaho ranchers' property to enforce the Endangered Species Act. "I have never seen them," Chenoweth said in an interview in the New York Times. "But enough people in my district have become concerned that I can't just ignore it. We do have some proof." Chenoweth made the charges at a press conference without ever consulting with the Department of Interior.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which enforces the act, says that they do not own any helicopters and have never used any in Idaho. The only green and black helicopters in Idaho are used by the National Guard. Black helicopters without FAA-required running lights are regularly used by the drug interdiction office of the DEA. In addition, most US Army helicopters (such as the Black Hawk) are finished in a very dark chocolate or olive matte paint. With the progressive development of night-vision goggles, the need for helicopters to be lit when moving as a planned formation has been reduced.

But "black helicopters" resonates well with the militia movement's conspiracy theories of black helicopters from the United Nations invading the West. They fear that federal environmental regulations are just the beginning of the one-world government long feared by most right-wingers, (however, few believe that is occurring right now, except for xenophobic ultra-rightwing parties, such as the John Birch Society). This fear is epitomized by the United Nations' designation of Yellowstone National Park as a World Heritage Site (even though the designation was authored by Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, and the park has not lost its status as a national treasure).

Black Helicopter Facts

The American military special operations community does in fact operate black helicopters, particularly the Pave Low which is optimized for long-range stealthy insertion and extraction of personnel, including combat search and rescue.

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as the Night Stalkers, regularly conducts both exercises and operational missions in United States airspace. Some of these exercises have taken place in heavily urbanized areas, including Los Angeles, Detroit, San Francisco, Oakland and Washington DC. Most operational missions are tasked in narcotics interdiction in the American Southwest and out of Florida. By extensive use of GPS and night vision equipment, as well as other classified means, the Night Stalkers are able to fly in zero visibility conditions with no running lights. At this high intensity level of operation, training is necessarily almost as dangerous as actual combat. Frequent practice is necessary to retain proficiency.

At least some sightings of black helicopters are very likely to have been of 160th SOAR helicopters on exercises and/or missions. This only feeds fuel to the fire for conspiracy theorists who do their homework on military matters. However, from a practical perspective, any extensive missions conducted by the American military on domestic soil would rapidly leak to the news media, and thus to the general public.

Conspiracy theorists would probably not be comforted to know that small-arms fire is almost entirely ineffective against a well-planned helicopter mission, and that the use of automatic weapons would mark the firing positions for counter-fire and air strikes. However, surface to air missiles are particularly effective against helicopters, with many infrared-guided weapons able to acquire targets from any angle of launch.

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