Presenting: The Hawk. One of the helicopters I’ve enjoyed recording the most is the Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk Helicopter. The UH-60A is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. The UH-60A entered service with the U.S. Army in 1979, to replace the Bell UH-1 Iroquois as the Army’s tactical transport helicopter. This machine is a reconditioned rotorcraft from military surplus and is the real deal. It has been updated and modified to be used as a heavy lift helicopter but it still has the traditional sound of the original military hardware.
I was granted exclusive access to the very expensive helicopter to record multiple “Track and Balance” tests at full throttle on the ground and in flight. I used a Schoeps MK4-MK8 M/S for the medium distant perspectives and was hand held so I could be mobile. I set a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST XY microphone close up and then medium close during the test starts and power down sequences. I set up my AT-835ST far away in the grass field next to the runway. I also set a Sony PCM D-100 and MKH-8040ST ORTF inside the Blackhawk for the interior perspectives. On other occasions I used a Sony PCM D1 for some distant perspectives and set the PCM D-100 outside the helicopter at a medium distance on the ground.
The helicopter was recorded on many different occasions and in a few locations. At times the Hawk was in a wide open field and other times it was in close proximity to buildings. There is very broad selection of perspectives and performances you can draw upon for sound design. I used the MKH-8040ST XY microphone on a boom pole for some of the pass bys and start ups and other times I used the Schoeps MK4-MK8 M/S microphone set.
One time I recorded the Hawk it was making a quick trip to the portable refueling station just across the street. I set up the MKH-8040ST XY and ORTF rigs at the take off location and I waited with the Schoeps M/S rig across the street at the airfield and recorded it flying in and setting down. While it was refueling and having a minor glitch repaired I drove back to get the MKH-8040ST microphone rigs and then placed them at the refueling area for the Hawk leaving. There was also a Sony PCM D-100 lurking around out there in the distance.
All went well except for a initial “microphone down” take during one of the first recording sessions that rendered a take completely useless. Yes, the Go Pro went over once from the rear rotor wind blast as the Hawk was making a ground turn. Thankfully the crew loaned me some sandbags to keep the microphones in place for the later takes.
Over 5GB of new exterior and interior sounds added! Using a Soundfield ST-450 MKII, interior B-Format Ambisonic sounds from ground runs and a 30 minute flight are featured in their entirety. I was also able to crouch under the nose of the UH-60 as it was performing a ground test and recorded the blades spinning overhead… Yes, that was intense! I also placed a microphone in a open window for a fantastic mix of interior and exterior. Close up engine starts and stops were also captured. Stereo XY versions from the Soundfield ST-450 MKII are included.
Interior • Exterior • Flight • Ground • Hover • Pass By • Take-off • Landing • Start-up • Shut Down
(2) Sound Devices 702 | Sound Devices 744T | Sound Devices Mix Pre-D | Sennheiser MKH-8040ST XY & ORTF | Schoeps MS Pair MK4-MK8 | Sanken CSS-5 | Audio Technica AT-835ST | Sony PCM-D100 | Sony PCM-D1
THE HAWK EXTENSION 1 & 2:
Presenting: THE HAWK Extension Sound Effects Library. This collection expands on the original HAWK library with all new exterior sounds recorded with high-end microphones including the Sennheiser MKH8040ST and a Schoeps MS set.
Included are pass bys, flight test maneuvers, hovering, long approaches, landings and ground runs from a Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk Helicopter. The UH-60A is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft.
Recorded on multiple occasions at a very quiet airport. Each time I recorded the Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk Helicopter I made sure I was standing in various locations and distances from the machine. The ground runs have multiple distances and perspectives to give you a wide range of options when posting to picture. The hovering and pass bys include close up, medium and distant sound perpectives along with very long clean approaches. The flight test maneuver sounds showcase the machine traveling forward, sideways and backwards.
Updated 2023: THE HAWK Extension 2 sound effects collection expands on the original HAWK library with all new 24-bit 96kHz exterior sounds recorded with high-end microphones and recorders. This set of sounds showcases a Blackhawk medical squadron starting and departing from the local airport.
Sound Devices 702 | Sennheiser MKH-8040ST XY | Schoeps MS Pair MK4-MK8 | Schoeps MS Pair MK41-MK8 | Rycote Wind Protection
Very special thanks to Timberline Helicopters, Inc. and Other folks.