Predictably, gunfire and missiles account for most chopper fireballs, but there is a rich tradition of helicopter explosions which are strange, weird and downright bizarre.
Here, we give you the 10 strangest exploding helicopter scenes we’ve come across to date.
1. Sheena: Queen Of The Jungle
Method of destruction: Psychically controlled flamingos
Orphaned and left to survive in the jungle, Sheena (Tanya Roberts) learns that she has a unique mental power which allows her to control the minds of animals.
When harmony in the animal kingdom is threatened by evil outside forces, the Queen of the Jungle uses her psychic powers to restore order.
In the film’s climax this involves Sheena summoning up a flock of flamingos to attack a helicopter. The pilot - unprepared for an assault by pink, feathery, automatons - loses control of the helicopter after the deadly avian assault and crashes into the ground. Superbly bizarre, but oddly in keeping with a truly strange film.
2. The Other Guys
Method of destruction: Golf balls
Like Marmite, the comedy of Will Ferrell is either loved or hated. In this cop movie spoof, Ferrell is partnered with Mark Wahlberg as they try to bring down a super-criminal played by Steve Coogan.
Naturally, Coogan wants the meddling cops dead so despatches a helicopter filled with gunmen to do the job.
In trying to avoid being shot, Ferrell and Wahlberg end up on a golf driving range. Whereupon they command the bemused golfers to fire their practice shots at the helicopter hovering nearby. One of the balls strikes the pilot on the head knocking him unconscious causing the helicopter to crash an explode. A kind of fireball-in-one if you like.
3. The Last Match
Method of destruction: Exploding football
When a young girl is framed for drug offences and imprisoned on a Caribbean island it doesn’t look like there’s an way to help her. Fortunately, her father is an American football coach who rallies the team to help save his daughter.
The team’s football skills come in handy when, during their rescue bid, they’re attacked by a police helicopter. One of the players stuffs a grenade inside a football and then drop kicks it inside the circling chopper where it explodes destroying the aircraft.
It’s worth mentioning that A similar method of destruction is employed in Three Kings, but this film has the edge for being earlier but also more outrageous.
Method of destruction: Shark
Filmmakers have teased us with the prospect of a shark related chopper fireball in other films (Jaws 2 and the ‘60s Batman) but it fell to Bollywood producers to finally give us the scene we’d all been waiting for.
5. The Swarm
Method of destruction: Bees
Irwin Allen’s killer bee disaster movie was, well, a disaster. Indeed, the veteran filmmaker was so scarred by the experience that he forbade anyone working him from ever mentioning its name.
Fortunately, there’s no restriction on us talking about an early scene in the film where the army are still trying to establish the nature of the threat they’re facing. Two helicopters come across an undulating black mass moving slowly across the sky.
Rather than maintain a safe distance the two pilots decide to fly straight into what we quickly learn is a swarm of bees. The bees cause an unidentified mechanical failure in one helicopter and then manage to get inside the second one, causing them both to crash. It remains the first, and only known, bee related helicopter crash.
Method of destruction: Grenade
While the method of destruction is somewhat routine, this is still one of the strangest exploding helicopter scenes we’ve ever witnessed.
Munich tells the story of a group of assassins - led by Eric Bana - hunt down the terrorists responsible for murder of Israeli athletes at 1972 Olympics.
After completing his mission, Bana is haunted by his experiences. Whilst having sex with his wife, Bana has a flashback to a bungled attempt to kill the terrorists. As he continues his sweaty thrashings, the flashback concludes - just as Bana reaches his own climax - with a helicopter being blown up during the botched raid.
This is the only time in cinematic history that a exploding helicopter has been combined with a sex scene. Totally unique and totally bizarre.
7. Rambo III
Method of destruction: Bow and arrow
The third instalment of the franchise featuring the troubled Vietnam veteran, sees Sylvester Stallone team up with the Mujaheddin to take on the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Predictably given Rambo’s luddite tendencies - he regularly eschews modern technology in the films - the pick of the bunch has the bandana wearing warrior down a helicopter with some distinctly medieval weaponry.
Pursued by a Russkie helicopter, Stallone uses his trusty bow and arrow to shoot it out the sky. Although, in a nod to modernity he does attach an explosive to the arrow.
Overall, Rambo 3 is an exploding helicopter feast, featuring no fewer than four chopper fireballs.
8. Dante’s Peak
Method of destruction: Volcanic ash
Pierce Brosnan took a brief break from his 007 duties to star in this disaster movie.
The action is set in a sleepy rural town which just happens to be near a long dormant volcano which may or may not be about to erupt (I'm not spoiling the film by telling you that lava does spill freely from it before the credits roll).
The film’s key scene occurs after the volcano has erupted. Ignoring the safety advice they’ve been given, some of the town’s wealthy elite pay the local helicopter to fly them to safety.
Unfortunately, the sky is filled with volcanic ash which chokes the engine of the helicopter causing it to plummet from the sky and crash.
Method of destruction: Eaten
No matter how hungry I’ve been I’ve never thought that a helicopter might make an enjoyable light snack. But then I’m not a giant radioactive lizard so I guess I can only really speak for myself.
In one bravura scene Godzilla pursues three army helicopters that are dodgy and weaving about New York’s skyscrapers.
Having smashed on chopper into the side of a building, Godzilla proceeds to chow down on the chopper as if it were a glorified hors d’oeuvre.
Roland Emmerich may have many faults as a filmmaker, but - as he's proved throughout his career - not knowing how to blow up a helicopter isn't one of them.
10. 2012: Ice Age
Method of destruction: Ice
When the world (basically America) is threatened with an impromptu ice age triggered by volcanic activity in the arctic, the US responds in the only way it knows how: war.
The American army launch a full scale military assault on the advancing wall of ice. Unsurprisingly such dubious logic doesn’t work.
However, it does bring about a helicopter explosion when one of the missiles that are fired throws up a shower of ice fragments. The chilly debris hits a helicopter that’s hovering too close which promptly blows up.
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