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.
Update: April 27, 2017: Over 5GB of new exterior and interior sounds! 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.
NOTE: At the end of some of the interior tracks when the helicopter has spun down its engines there are faint voices from the pilot and technicians.
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
Format: Stereo/Mono • MS • B-Format Ambisonic
Bit Depth: 24-Bit
Sample Rate: 96kHz
Metadata: Soundminer, BWAV
Special Thanks to Timberline Helicopters!