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Spotted yesterday in the LA area, Mike 01 flight, a flight of 3 oddball looking Bell 407's.   

A mysterious Bell 407 helicopter seen flying in the greater Los Angeles Area on Jan. 13, 2021.

The article below takes a deep dive into these aircraft.   Seems quite likely that they may be assigned to the DOD's "Flight Concepts" division, a modern day evolution of Project Seaspray.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/38686/everything-we-know-about-the-mysterious-dark-helicopters-that-have-been-circling-los-angeles

 

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4 hours ago, 11bee said:

Spotted yesterday in the LA area, Mike 01 flight, a flight of 3 oddball looking Bell 407's.   

A mysterious Bell 407 helicopter seen flying in the greater Los Angeles Area on Jan. 13, 2021.

The article below takes a deep dive into these aircraft.   Seems quite likely that they may be assigned to the DOD's "Flight Concepts" division, a modern day evolution of Project Seaspray.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/38686/everything-we-know-about-the-mysterious-dark-helicopters-that-have-been-circling-los-angeles

 

 

One of those things for people in the know and it's not just 407s. I'll leave out location data and just say the linked article has some things right.

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Strange that they would be flying in formation, in daylight, staging out of civilian airports and facilities.  Almost seems like they wanted to be noticed.   

 

From a quick scan of the pictures, I see the following antennas that may be non-standard (I'm no expert on these aircraft):

 

  • Military style SATCOM on tailboom
  • White "towel rack" antenna on aft fuselage
  • Three small white antennas on bottom of aft fuselage
  • Two small white antennas on undersurface of tailboom, forward of horizontal stabilizers
  • Two white blade antennas under forward fuselage
  • White "bar" antenna on centerline of forward fuselage 
  • Small white blade antenna on underside of forward fuselage

Did I miss anything?  Aside from the electronics, to me, the airframe seems 100% stock 407.  No sign of any other military gear such as ASE equip, low viz formation lights, etc. 

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21 minutes ago, snake36bravo said:

They fly daylight in my POS as well. They aren't in hiding. 

 

scott-407-1.thumb.jpg.6934ebe43d39b0fd78bef8222d8838f9.jpg

Wow, you do quick work.  Thoughts on those two white “bumps” on the underside of the tail boom forward of the horizontal stab?   

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I'd say the same. Useful for over-water flights and under NVG conditions. I doubt these are equipped with an autopilot but who knows.

 

There is no sign of any RWR system fitted, unlike the Iraqi 407s that were delivered. Could these possibly be Stateside airframes held in reserve for training only, while there might be further full-spec airframes kept out of the public eye and used on deployments? Add RWRs and an IR-suppressed exhaust system and you are getting closer to a deployable airframe. 

 

The Iraqi 407s also have a weapons plank so there is possibly the option to arm these and create armed 407s if that's what the mission calls for.    

 

LD.

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What does it say on the fuselage?

 

In as much as there isn't a major Army or Air Force Base in LA, likely in town for some contractor work.

The mods are too subtle for a film ship, though three of then together make that a bit plausible (if they even use real aircraft in films any longer).

 

I've seen some weird stuff there, back in the early '80s a camouflaged MD500 (complete with the tall rotor mast site) on a trailer headed somewhere, and my biggest scoop of all,  a two-tone Bell 222 variant (with auxiliary jets and reportedly capable of supersonic speeds) at the Bell dealer at Van Nuys airport. 😁

 

 

Yes it was Airwolf, it was under right security, but some fast talking and showing a Bell exec my DoD ID card got be past the fence for a quick look and photos.

Edited by JohnEB
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Looks like those three helos were busy over LA last night, doing multiple landings on sky scrapers, city hall and at Dodger Stadium.  Here's a video of them shot in AZ on their way out to the west coast. 

 

 

It is quite interesting that if they are assigned to the unit that some folks think they are assigned to, that they would be operating this conspicuously. 

 

Now i'm kinda wishing that the was a 1/32 Bell 407 model out there, to go along with my N1111U MD500 that I'm slowing building.  

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15 hours ago, midnightprowler said:

Pics John? 

Nothing really useable...it was 35 years ago, so on film.

Dark helicopter parked on light colored cement,  direct noontime light...you can imagine the lack of details. I did get one fairly decent shot, I blew it up into a large print. I framed it and had it in my den for years.

It's now hanging in the garage...

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Nice video. Thanks for posting. These guys are certainly not hiding in the shadows, at least not with this trio of aircraft and their recent movements. 

 

We need a 407 model! I have the Attack Squadron MQ-8C in 1/72. Sadly, there is no way to hollow out the windows and make a 407 from it but perhaps a 407 fuselage could be made from two Italeri OH-58D Kiowa kits, using the MQ-8C as a guide. 

 

LD.

Edited by Loach Driver
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1 hour ago, Loach Driver said:

Nice video. Thanks for posting. These guys are certainly not hiding in the shadows, at least not with this trio of aircraft and their recent movements. 

 

We need a 407 model! I have the Attack Squadron MQ-8C in 1/72. Sadly, there is no way to hollow out the windows and make a 407 from it but perhaps a 407 fuselage could be made from two Italeri OH-58D Kiowa kits, using the MQ-8C as a guide. 

 

LD.

Quite honestly, we could use a full series of 35th OH-58's from Vietnam A models (derisively called the 5.8 by many pilots since they never measured up to the OH-6A LOACH), through the current variants flying today.   Let's start with that hideous cold war OH-58C with the flat plate windscreen.  For some reason,  I really love the way that thing looks.   

OH-58's are kinda like the red-headed stepchild of Army aviation.   Not overly loved or appreciated but they served well from Vietnam until just a few years ago. 

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  • 2 months later...
On 1/16/2021 at 5:59 PM, Loach Driver said:

 

 

(...) I have the Attack Squadron MQ-8C in 1/72. Sadly, there is no way to hollow out the windows and make a 407 from it but perhaps a 407 fuselage could be made from two Italeri OH-58D Kiowa kits, using the MQ-8C as a guide. 

 

LD.

Same here Loach Driver.

I went the same route and painted the windows on the Attack Squadron resin fuselage black. Squinting from some distance it looks ok, but I would prefer an injection mould kit.

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On 1/16/2021 at 12:08 PM, 11bee said:

Quite honestly, we could use a full series of 35th OH-58's from Vietnam A models (derisively called the 5.8 by many pilots since they never measured up to the OH-6A LOACH), through the current variants flying today.   Let's start with that hideous cold war OH-58C with the flat plate windscreen.  For some reason,  I really love the way that thing looks.   

OH-58's are kinda like the red-headed stepchild of Army aviation.   Not overly loved or appreciated but they served well from Vietnam until just a few years ago. 

You're not wrong about them getting a bad rap.  I have a flat-plate -58 not too far from me if reference is needed.  The guys actually want to back-date it to round glass because they hate the flat plate.  Last -58s came through my local airport just a couple months ago.  They were from CA going east to some agency or place.  A nearby agency got 3 -58C's from Ft. Polk late last year too.  

 

Also, to look into Loach Drivers comment about autopilots in the 407, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they had it.  Many HEMS 407's have them.  At least more recent airframes.

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On 1/16/2021 at 11:59 AM, Loach Driver said:

Nice video. Thanks for posting. These guys are certainly not hiding in the shadows, at least not with this trio of aircraft and their recent movements. 

 

We need a 407 model! I have the Attack Squadron MQ-8C in 1/72. Sadly, there is no way to hollow out the windows and make a 407 from it but perhaps a 407 fuselage could be made from two Italeri OH-58D Kiowa kits, using the MQ-8C as a guide. 

 

LD.


Could you use the resin kit to make a mold and vaccuform that mold with clear plastic?

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Here's something for further discussion consideration: there are 1/72 pre-built models (die-cast & plastic parts, interior visible) that are, as far as I can tell, the exterior is almost the same as the Attack Squadron MQ-8C resin kits (I have a few of both now...) available at places like ebay and die-cast shops. After purchasing the model and being adventurous & somewhat careful, I was able to separate the upper cabin from floor/ skids as well as many of the smaller parts.  Windscreen (1-piece), chin (separate) and main cabin windows (3 window strip) can be removed with care, and full interior accessed. Cockpit and cabin are molded one piece and offer a lot of potential detail (years ago I did the exercise of using the old Monogram Snap-Tite kits to create  a 407, but it was far from accurate). After disassembly and comparing to the Attack Squadron, overall sizes, shape and details are accurately presented, especially for an out of box desk top model. One big difference is there is no forward mast cant/ tilt, but I suspect it would be little effort to fill & redrill hole that is present. These are a little pricey for what they are, but the are very available. If you have MQ-8 resin kit, these will work well bashed together resin details can really help detail the exterior. I think Bell had these as give aways at one of the Heli-Expo's a few years ago.

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-72-Scale-American-Bell-407GX-Helicopter-Metal-Diecast-Model-Keepsake/264876946989?hash=item3dabe5762d:g:XoAAAOSwTNFfbeYD

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  • 5 months later...

Those "extra special" Virginia-based helos make another appearance (in some lucky farmer's field).  Note in the YT video, the civilian attair of the pilot (jeans, tee shirt and Dave Clarks) and the rather sporty departure. 

 

 

Helicopter landing at the farm - YouTube

 

The reason for the parts delivery.  Note again, the less than regulation clothing and grooming standards. 

Repairs

 

 

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There is another Bell 407 variant that I've never seen mentioned on ARC: UAE 407MRH.  The helicopters are green 407GX bought from Bell and converted by Northstar Aviation at the Melborne, FL airport. It's a bit more modified than the gray 407s above, but doesn't have the defensive systems of the IA407. I'm under an NDA so can't really discuss anything that can't be found on the internet.  UAE bought at least 30 and at least one was lost in combat in Yemen.

 

CAE_to_provide_UAE_Joint_Aviation_Comman

 

 

Edited by Crash Test Dummy
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