Exploding Helicopter Film Facts

As niche genres go, exploding helicopter films is very, well, niche. Sadly, this under-appreciated art is little documented. Something that we at Exploding Helicopter intend to put right by recording all the crucial facts and pivotal moments in the genre.

We don't yet claim to have a definitive record of exploding helicopter information, as we're constantly evaluating new historical records (ie films). However, the information here is the best that we have until greater scholars than your humble servants at Exploding Helicopter turn their attention to documenting the art.

If you think we need to update our records then please let us know.....

Number Of Confirmed Films With An Exploding Helicopter: 217
Total Number Of Helicopters Exploded In Films: 284

The First Film With An Exploding Helicopter
The 1958 creature feature Behemoth The Sea Monster (also known as The Giant Behemoth) is the earliest film with an exploding helicopter we've yet found. In the movie a radioactive dinosaur goes on the rampage across England. An aerial search for the beast is started by a couple of expendable extras in a Westland WS-51 Dragonfly. Our pilots locate and close in on the creature which uses its radioactive powers (which the film never actually specifies) to destroy the helicopter. One moment the aircraft is there, the next there’s an intense white glow and sudden shower of sparks. And poof! It’s gone. You can watch exploding helicopter history being made in the film's trailer. 

The Film With The Most Exploding Helicopters
Come for the flying dragons, stay for the exploding helicopters. The film with the most exploding helicopters is Dragon Wars (2007). This Korean/US action, sci-fi, spectacular tells the tale of ancient legend that sees dragons unleashed on present day Los Angeles. There's an epic aerial battle between dragons and helicopters which see a record-breaking 9 (nine) choppers destroyed.

In a close second there's the film Battleship which serves up no fewer than 8 chopper fireballs in one short scene of rotor-bladed mayhem.

Chopper conflagration fans may also want to check out Charlie Wilson's War and Avatar which both feature an impressive 6 exploding helicopters.

There are also three other films deserving of a meritorious mention for their notable helicopter carnage. Broken Arrow, You Only Live Twice, Independence Day, and Rambo III all feature 4 exploding helicopters.  

The Director Who Has Exploded The Most Helicopters
It's little surprise that this disaster movie specialist Roland Emmerich features top of our list having rid the world of 10 helicopters (4 in Independence Day, 3 in Godzilla and 3 in White House Down). It would be unthinkable for Hollywood's go-to-man for destroying cities and indeed civilisation to be absent.

With so many options at his disposal, it is a mark of his dedication to the art of helicopter explosion that he likes to feature multiple helicopter explosions in his films.

Disappointingly, we've felt unable to include his helicopter work in The Day After Tomorrow as the choppers sadly don't explode. But with some of his other key films yet to be reviewed by us, Roland could well take an unassailable position as the greatest exploding helicopter director of all-time.

The Actor In The Most Exploding Helicopter Films
Austrian word-mangler Arnold Schwarzenegger has racked up appearances in 8 films which feature an exploding helicopter. In many ways it's a surprise that he's only destroyed 11 helicopters in the process.

The 'Neg has made several significant contributions to the art of exploding helicopters. One of the best has to be True Lies, where he downs a whirlybird with a rocket-propelled terrorist.

Arnie has also blown up choppers in The 6th Day, Predator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, The Expendables and The Expendables 2 and The Expendables 3.

With his recent return to the action genre we fully expect the former Mr Universe to add to his impressive CV.

The Actor With The Most Exploding Helicopters
The Irishman has earned a reputation as an acting heavyweight with award winning performances in a number of highly respected films, however, it's for his single-minded pursuit of exploding helicopters that we choose to celebrate him. To date he has starred in films which have seen the fiery destruction of a phenomenal 14 helicopters.

What makes our enjoyment of these films all the more delicious is the fact Liam clearly hates making them.

Exploding Helicopter can't think of another actor who makes his contempt for a shoddy script, poor director or untalented co-stars, so readily apparent. One only needs to watch him scowl his way through Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in an unrestrained fug for an example.

Still, we're grateful for those mortgage movies as they're where Neeson has racked up the chopper fireballs that make him the leading exploding helicopter actor. Not only that, he also starred in the Battleship, which features a record breaking 8 helicopter explosions. He may not enjoy making these films, but we certainly enjoy watching them.

Award Recognition For Films With Exploding Helicopters

No film featuring an exploding helicopter has ever won a Best Picture Oscar.

Only 5 films with a chopper fireball have ever received Best Picture nominations at the Oscars

  • The Towering Inferno
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Avatar
  • Munich
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Exploding Helicopters In Popular Culture

“I’ve never seen an exploding helicopter. I’ve never seen anybody go and blow somebody’s head off. So why should I make films about them?" John Cassavetes

Methods Of Destruction
We list the most popular and obscure methods used in cinema for exploding helicopters.

Gunfire (Machine guns, pistols, etc)
Predator, Red Scorpion, Transporter 2, Ultraviolet, Exit Wounds, Broken Arrow, Rambo III, Sudden Death, Shadow Man, Commando Leopard, Die Another Day, Cobra Mission, Fifty/Fifty, The 6th Day, Midnight Run, SWAT, Evasive Action, Executive Target, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, CIA II: Target Alexa, Austin Powers In Goldmember, Olympus Has Fallen, The Green Berets, The Battle Of Sinai, Unstoppable, Resident Evil: Retribution, Domino, Spy Game, Iron Thunder, The Eliminator, Black Sunday, The Beast Must Die, The Siege Of Firebase Gloria, Hickey & Boggs, When Eight Bells Toll, Missing In Action 2: The Beginning, The Park Is Mine, The Diamond Mercenaries, Terminator: Dark Fate

Gunfire from a vehicle (Helicopters, airplanes, tank, armoured vehicle, etc)
Blue Thunder, Iron Eagle IV, Courage Under Fire, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra, XXX2: The Next Level, The Sender, Cradle 2 The Grave, The Interview, Fire Birds, The Expendables 3,

Grenade launcher
Fifty/Fifty, Darkman, Deadly Prey,

Missiles, rockets, or artillery
Firefox, Sub Zero, The World Is Not Enough, UHF, Transformers, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved MeThe A Team, The Sentinel, The Peacemaker, Avatar, True Lies, The Losers, Mega Piranha, Under Siege, Samurai Commando Mission 1549, White House Down, Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection, Fire Birds, Suicide Squad,

Rocket launcher
Rambo: First Blood Pt.II, Sudden Death, Swordfish, The Commander, Skyscraper, DNA, Charlie Wilson's War, T-Force, Invasion USA, Lasko - Death Train, Green Zone, 5 Days Of War, Terminal Rush, Black Dynamite, Lone Survivor, American Ninja, The Hunt For Eagle One, Fortress 2: Re-entry, American Ninja 4: The Annihilation, Active Stealth, The Alternate, P.O.W - The Escape, Hard Ticket To Hawaii,

Flame thrower
You Only Live Twice

Flare gun
A View To A Kill, The Final Countdown

Bow and arrow
Rambo III

Experimental weaponry
Surrogates, The Secret Agent Club,

Alien weaponry
Battle: Los Angeles, Independence Day, Battleship, Edge Of Tomorrow,

Collision with train
Blue Thunder, Lasko - Death Train

Collision with motorbike
Stone Cold, The Expendables 2

Collision with car, truck or bus
Die Hard 4.0, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Fifty/Fifty, Hellboy II: The Golden Army,

Collision with tank
Rambo III

Collision with helicopter
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Collision with plane

Collision with Statue of Liberty
Batman Forever

Collision with building
The Last Castle, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lawnmower Man 2, Tomorrow Never Dies, Godzilla, Operation Delta Force 2, Darkman, The Matrix, The Sender, A Good Day To Die Hard, Absolute Zero, Police Story 3: Supercop, The Expendables 3,

Collision with falling sign
The Island

Collision with cliff
Broken Arrow, Cliffhanger, Capricorn One, Derailed, The LEGO Movie,

Collision with ground (crash landing)
Resident Evil: Afterlife, Escape From LA, The Dark Knight, GoldenEye, Tropic Thunder, Morlocks, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Guardian, Arctic Predator, Annihilation Earth, The Omega Man, Piranha 2: The Spawning, The Pumaman, The Thaw, The Towering Inferno, The Cat From Outer Space, Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Collision with telegraph pole, power cables, etc
Die Hard With A Vengeance, Lockout, The Gauntlet

Die Hard, Where Eagles Dare, The Commander, Cobra Mission 2, Half Past Dead, The Spy Who Loved Me, Resident Evil: Afterlife, On Deadly Ground, Spy Hard, 12 Rounds, Angels & Demons, Olympus Has Fallen, Zero Dark Thirty, Land Of The Free, Half Past Dead 2, Takers, The Expendables 3, Hitman: Agent 47,

From Russia With Love, The Thing, Commando Leopard, Black Hawk Down, Apocalypse Now, Munich, The Marksman, Money Talks, Furious 7,

Artillery shell
The Expendables


Aerial mines
You Only Live Twice

Exploding security tag
The Condemned

Exploding football
Three Kings, The Last Match

Explosive chewing gum
Mission Impossible

Exploding gas tank or gas pipe
Shooter, The World Is Not Enough, Skyfall, DNA,

Via the ignition of flammable liquid
Broken Arrow, Under Siege, X-Men Origins: Wolverine,

Exploding speedboat
Terminator Woman

Nuclear weapon or device
Broken Arrow, The Dark Knight Rises

Superman II,

Godzilla, Piranhaconda

Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen

Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen

Thrown object
The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel,

Plasma ray
Avengers Assemble


Golf balls
The Other Guys


Dante's Peak

Swatted by giant reptile, monster, insect, etc
Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus, Godzilla, Robocroc, Monsters vs Aliens, Big Ass Spider, Alone In The Dark, Behemoth The Sea Monster

Psychically controlled flamingos
Sheena: Queen of the Jungle


The Day The Earth Stood Still

Mutant sharks
Deep Blue Sea

Flying chunks of ice
2012: Ice Age

Flying dragon or dinosaur
Avatar, Jurassic World

The Swarm

Meteor Storm

Falling rock


World War Z


Fishing rod
Machete Kills

Unknown (Where the film does not provide conclusive evidence as to the method of destruction)
Men Of Honor, The Delta Force,