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Black Helicopters Over Manchester

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On October 2nd 1999 at approximately 8.30pm a gentleman called Mr. Steve Clark contacted MAPIT with a report of a Black Helicopter over his house. He had been sitting in his lounge watching TV when he heard a thunderous noise coming from outside. Interested in Aviation and living in the area of a flight path to Manchester International Airport, Mr. Clark investigated the strange noise. He went outside and looked up. Directly above his house was a very strange helicopter. He described it as ‘insect looking’ with bits sticking out of it. Mr. Clark stood in his garden watching it for about 2 minutes, when suddenly the noise of its engine seemed to just stop. Mr. Clark was amazed at how quiet the helicopter had become. A few seconds later the helicopter very quickly accelerated out of sight over the roof-tops of near by houses, heading towards Sheffield. At first Mr. Clark could not see any form of identification lights, but when it started to move away from him he saw a single fixed white light suddenly switch on. Mr. Clark claims he has never seen this helicopter before, but did remark on how it resembled a military helicopter.

On October 4th 1999, I (Stephen Mera) visited Mr. Clarke and asked him to attempt to identify the helicopter via looking at helicopter specifications. Mr. Clark identified the Boeing AH 64 Apache Helicopter as being the nearest.

Contacts Made :

Manchester International Airport.

On October 7th 1999, we contacted MIA and was put through to Air Traffic Control Help Desk. The woman who answered the phone was informed of the helicopter sighting, the location, time and helicopter discription. We asked if there was such a helicopter in the vicinity. She asked us to hold. A minute or so later she picked up the phone and told us that there had been no such reports of any helicopters in the area, except for the known Police helicopter. She suggested that it must have belonged to the Police.

I asked if she could tell me if the Police helicopter had been in the given location on the night of the sighting. At that she said she could not tell us the where abouts of the police helicopter as reports are not kept and that they were not aloud to give that sort of information.

Greater Manchester Police.

On October 8th 1999, GMP were contacted, however, the police officer told us that they to, were not allowed to give us details of the helicopter’s where abouts. However, the officer said that the sighting could well have been the Police helicopter which often operate over Manchester.

South Yorkshire Police.

On October 9th 1999, SYP were contacted, however, the police officer told us that they would not have any police helicopters over Manchester as this is not their area of operation. They told us to contact GMP, which we had already done.

Identification :

All witnesses discribed the Black Helicopters as looking very similar to the Apache AH 64, however, some gave mention that these helicopters had no tail rotar. Below is the general specifications of the Apache AH 64 and information :-

Total AH-64A procurement by the US Army stands at 813 helicopters (plus prototypes), comprising 807 planned production aircraft and six Desert Storm attrition replacements. The US Army hoped to upgrade 254 AH-64As to AH-64A+ or AH-64B standard, but this was cancelled in 1992. This was an interim step (coming ahead of the more advanced AH-64C/D), with modest, near-term improvements based on Operation Desert Storm experience. Modifications included addition of GPS for accurate navigation, SINCGARS radios, extended-range fuel tanks, and new rotor blades. TADS/PNVS and the M230 gun were to have been modified to improve reliability, maintainability and accuracy. The AH-64B's in-the-field modification would have included retrofitted General Electric T700-GE-701C engines. These replaced the -701 in production AH-64s from aircraft 604 (89-0192). For ferrying purpose, the AH-64A demonstrated its capabilities on a 4 April 1985 flight, carrying four 230-US gal (870-litre) fuel tanks and flying 1,175 miles (1891 km). On 22 June 1985, six Apaches were loaded into a C-5A Galaxy to demonstrate the capability, since used frequently, to deploy the battlefield helicopter overseas via strategic airlift. Two can be carried in a C-141 and three in the C-17.

Longbow Apache AH 64 :

In 1995 the AH-64C Apache was to become the third version of the US Army's principal attack helicopter to enter service, lacking the Longbow radar/missile system fitted to the more advanced AH-64D Longbow Apache that is due to follow in 1997. Originally the US Army's plans for an upgraded Apache fleet of AH-64Cs and AH-64Ds, for a total of of 535 conversions (or 750 according to some sources) of existing AH-64A helicopters out of its total of 813 procured, of which 308 (523) were to become AH-64Cs and 227 to become AH-64Ds. In 1992, McDonnell Douglas converted four AH-64s with Longbow millimetric-wave fire control radar and Hellfire Longbow missile seekers to act as proof-of-concept aircraft for the AH-64D. Following completion of the Army's Longbow Apache critical design review in November 1991, and flight tests of an aerodynamically representative radome in March 1991, the prototype AH-64D Longbow Apache developmental aircraft made its first flight on 15 April 1992, although functioning radar was not flown until late 1993 (on the second prototype). The first RF Hellfire firing from an Apache followed soon after. Two AH-64C prototypes were also funded. Five aircraft under-went a five-month Force Development Test and Evaluation during late 1994, and all six prototypes will then be used in the January-March initial operational test and evaluation.

The AH-64C and AH-64D were identical except for radar and engine. With the decision to convert the Apache fleet to a common standard (all having the provision for the radar but not all fitted witrh the radar) the AH-64C designation was abandoned in late 1993. The AH-64D Longbow Apache (non radar examples being just called the AH-64D Apache) will be distinguished by the mast-mounted location of its Longbow radar. All will have 1,800-shp General Electric T700-GE-701C engines in place of the -701 fitted to the AH-64A.The -701C has an emergency rating of 1,940 shp. The Longbow radar (also being fitted to some of the new RAH-66 Comanches) will be integrated with the helicopter's avionics and with a new RF (radio frequency) seeker equipped version of the AGM-114 Hellfire ATGM. Some 13,000 of these are to be built, all but 2,000 earmarked for the AH-64. The new radar will allow missiles to be fired in an autonomous fire-and-forget mode. The current laser-guided Hellfire requires external designation (e.g. by an OH-58D scout) or can be used in conjunction with the TADS, in which case it is a line-of-sight, non fire-and-forget weapon. Longbow radar scans through 270°, in 90° sectors, or through 360° in the air-to-air mode.

Twelve targets can be detected, classified and prioritised simultaneously, and targets will be classified by six categories: tracked vehicle, wheeled vehicle, air defence, rotary-wing aircraft, fixed-wing aircraft and unknown. The radar can see through fog and smoke that currently foils IR or TV sensors. An improved Data Modem will be more efficient than the present Automatic Target Handover System. The rotating antenna weighs 300 lb (136 kg).

The AH-64D will also incorporate a range of improvements in targeting, battle management, communications, weapons and navigation systems, including Plessey AN/ASN-157 Doppler, a new integrated GPS/INS, and EMI protection, some of which are to be finalised as the programme progresses. The cockpit will be improved, with new glass displays and symbology, and electrical power generation will be doubled. The forward avionics bay is expanded, and the undercarriage fairings are extended forward to accommodate some of the new equipment. The AH-64D's terrain-profiling feature will enable the crew to navigate nap-of-the-earth, and sensor cueing will allow precise pre-pointing of the target acquisition system in order to zero-in on targets for rapid identification. Additionally, the Longbow interferometer will sense enemy air defence threats from any angle and alert the crew.

AH 64A Apache Specifications :

Rotor system: main rotor diameter 48 ft 0 in (14.63 m); tail rotor diameter 9 ft 2 in (2.79 m); main rotor disc area 1,809.56 sq ft (168.11 m2); tail rotor disc area 70.00 sq ft (6.13 m2)

Wing: span 17 ft 2 in (5.23 m) clean or 19 ft 1 in (5.82 m) over empty weapon racks

Fuselage and tail: length overall, rotors turning 58 ft 3.125 in (17.76 m) and fuselage 49 ft 1.5 in (14.97 m); height overall 15 ft 3.5 in (4.66 m) to top of air data sensor, 14 ft 1.25 in (4.30 m) over turning tail rotor and 12 ft 7 in (3.84 m) to top of rotor head; stabilizer span 11 ft 2 in (3.40 m); wheel track 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m); wheel base 34 ft 9 in (10.59 m)

Powerplant: two 1,696-shp (1265-kW) General Electric T700-GE-701 turboshafts each derated for normal operations or, from 604th helicopter, two General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshafts each rated at 1,800 shp (1342 kW)

Weights: empty 11,387 lb (5165 kg); normal take-off 14,445 lb (6552 kg) at primary mission weight or 17,650 lb (8006 kg) at design mission weight; maximum take-off 21,000 lb (9525 kg)

Fuel and load: internal fuel 2,550 lb (1157 kg); maximum ordnance 1,700 lb (771 kg)

Speed: never exceed speed 197 kt (227 mph; 365 km/h); maximum level speed 'clean' and maximum cruising speed at optimum altitude 158 kt (182 mph; 293 km/h)

Range: ferry range 918 nm (1,057 miles; 1701 km) with drop tanks; range 260 nm (300 miles; 428 km) with internal fuel; endurance 3 hours 9 minutes with internal fuel

Performance: maximum vertical rate of climb at sea level 2,500 ft (762 m) per minute; service ceiling 21,000 ft (6400 m); hovering ceiling 15,000 ft (4570 m) in ground effect and 11,500 ft (3505 m) out of ground effect

g limits: -0.5 to +3.5

AH-64D Longbow Apache Specification Differences :

generally similar to the McDonnell Douglas AH-64A Apache except in the following particulars:

Fuselage and tail: height overall 16 ft 1 in (4.90 m) to top of mast-mounted radome and 14 ft 1.25 in (4.30 m) to top of turning tail rotor

Powerplant: two General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshafts each rated at 1,800 shp (1342 kW)

Performance: maximum vertical rate of climb at sea level 2,530 ft (771 m) per minute; hovering ceiling 17,210 ft (5245 m) in ground effect and 13,530 ft (4125 m) out of ground effect.

Notes :

By all accounts, witnesses throughout the Manchester area had described what seems to be a converted or a prototype version of the AH64 Apache helicopter. Such helicopters are not known of. There are some standard Apache helicopters in the UK, which are associated with military units or facilities. There are possiblities that such an aircraft may be conducting a military operation or, could have been associated with an air show etc. No known airshows were scheduled. If a standard AH 64 Apache had been seen, it would have had certain obvious indicators, such as :-

1. Normal Identification Lighting in association with CAA and FAA.

2. The Standard Apache helicopter is noisy and is not equipped with NOTAR Systems.

3. Apache helicopters are usually green in colour with clear identification markings.

Suspected Apache AH 64 NOTAR Prototype :

During November 1999, I (Stephen Mera) witnessed the mysterious black helicopter in the skies over Manchester at approximately 11.30 pm. It had a single fixed white light on its tail and what seemed to be a tail boom, indicating the NOTAR system. The dorsel tail consisted of two. One on either side of the helicopter at a slightly lower angle. Also, there was some large fixtures to the appendages. Below is my representation of the AH 64 NOTAR Prototype.

Other Contacts Made :

RAF Military Associates.

Unofficially we were told that there are 6 Black Helicopters in the UK. Manchester Region has two and West Midlands has another. The two Manchester Black Helicopters are more or less identical except for a small yellow stripe on one of the tails. Both helicopters have been seen but not at the same time. MAPIT Investigator Jeff Dunning has witnessed the Black Helicopter with the small yellow stripe on its tail, and MAPIT Investigator Steve Yarwood and his family have witnessed the plain Black Helicopter like myself and Ms. Karen Day.

We were told by the military associate that these aircraft are prototypes and are converted Apache AH 64 helicopters fitted with an avanced NOTAR System. They are made of Carbon Fibre and are highly vacuumed for high altitude flying. Also, that they are faster than normal AH 64s and very Stealthy. The identification markings are dark grey in colour so to make it difficult to identify. These aircraft are fitted with Parabolic Sonic Ear Microphones, X-Ray Video Surveillance Cameras, and possibly Infra red and ultra violet detection. Finally, were were told that the aircraft are associated with RAF Lucus in Scotland and a Ministry of Defence facility in Abbaporth, in Wales. The above details were also confirmed by another RAF military associate of Steve Yarwood’s. The Military officer said he culd supply us with photographs, however, he later changed his mind due to the sensativity of the helicopter operations.

Criminal Investigations Department.

A CID officer in London who wishes to remain unknown also confirmed the Black NOTAR System helicopters. He would not comment on why they were being used, nor where they were from. However, he to also was aware of the helicopter identification and some of the specificatons.

The NOTAR System :

The NOTAR anti-torque system gives superior safety and also the ability to be extreamly quiet. Those helicopters equipped with the NOTAR system have low insurance rates. They have the greatest compliance margain of any helicopter yet tested to both the ICAO and the FAA Stage 2 noise requirements.

The NOTAR System consists of an enclosed articulated fan driven unit by the main transmission, a circulation control tail boom, direct jet thruster, and vertical stabilisers. Low pressure air, forced through two slots on the tail boom, causes the main rotor downwash to ‘hug’ the contour of the boom, creating lateral lift that counteracts main rotor torque.

Newspaper Articles :

At the latter part of October, MAPIT contacted the Sale and Altrincham Messenger Newspaper and the Stretford and Urmston Newspaper. Both of which ran an exstensive article regarding the black helicopters and the local witnesses.

Coincidentally during November. Several witnesses reported Black Apache AH 64 Helicopter sightings throughout the United States. Many people believe the UK helicopters are in fact associated with the United Nations which are coincidentally to train sections of the British Police, starting the year 2000. Black Helicopters are reported more so in the States rather than the UK, however, the similar appearance between the UK Black Helicopters and the US ones seem to indicate to many that the helicopters are one of the same, operated by government agencies. After the realease of the local newspaper articles, Greater Manchester Police announced their two new helicopters. In fact, not the Black Helicopters, but two new Eurocopters. This we believe was timed very well and of course suspicious. Those who report the Black Helicopters, may be told by the police that they were not black, but dark blue and these helicopters are the new Eurocopters which are seen quite often. Identification of these Eurocopters is as follows :-

Eurocopter AS 355 F2 (Twin Sqirrel) :

Greater Manchester Police already have a Eurocopter AS 355 F2. This is part of the Air Support Group based at Barton Aerodrome, Barton, Stretford, Manchester, which was formed on December 7th 1989. This AS 355 F2 is known as a Twin Squirrel which means (twin engined), c/n 5409.

The special equipment consists of an AGEMA LEO Gyro Stabilised FLIR / Camera platform under nose, Microwave Datalink, TRACKER Receiver, VCR Equipment, Nitesun, Skyshout and GPS. Its colour is white with a red streak down ts side and is the most commonly sighted Police Helicopter.

Eurocopter AS 355 F1 (Single Squirrel) :

The Royal Air Force have approximately 31 AS 355 F1 Single Squirrel Eurocopters in service. Like the Welsh Police Helicopter and the more recent AS 355 F2 Twin Squirrel Eurocopters that have been seen over Manchester, they have a yellow top and a dark blue base. The single engine is clearly visible.

Eurocopter EC 135 :

The Welsh Police Eurocopter was commissioned into service during April 1999It is capable of 135 Knots with a 2 hour endurance. I am currently not aware if there have been any Black Helicopter sightings in Wales, even though we have been told that Abbaporth, which is four nautical miles East North East of Cardigan and a suspected Ministry of Defence and Government Aerodrome and possible British Aerospace Facility is apparently associated with the Black Helicopters. RAF Maps mention a danger area known only as (D201) ?

Further Contacts :

West Midlands Police.

On November 3rd 1999, we contacted WMP, however, the police officer told us that they knew nothing of a black helicopter. They could only confirm that a standard Police Eurocopter is operative in their area.

The Yorkshire Evening Post Newspaper.

On November 11th 1999, we contacted the newspaper to see if anyone had reported any unusual black helicopters. Unfortunately, there knew nothing of black helicopter sightings.

Mcdonell Douglas Manufacturers.

On November 12th 1999, I (Stephen Mera) ontacted a friend in the States to see I he could assist my invstigation. I asked about Apache Prototypes with fitted NOTAR Systems. He also knew nothing about them, but said that if we could supply a photograph of the black helicopter, then he will try to find out some information for us. Unfortunately we do not possess a photograph nor video film as yet.

Conclusion :

It is extreamly difficult to say that these black helicopters do not exsist as I have seen one myself along with three other MAPIT associates and family members. I also find it hard to believe that several witnesses from differing locations can all identify the black helicopters as Apache AH64 look-a-likes. Some people theorise that the black helicopters are government owned and are kept secret as not to alarm the public. Some believe that they are associated with the up and coming Y2K bug problem. Greater Manchester Police have stated that the Eurocopter is to help with the increase of crime over the holiday period, and was apparently given the name ‘Operation Thunder’, however, the name has been changed to ‘Operation Santa’. A less alarming name and seasonally suited.

The black helicopters exist, as to who they are, and what they are doing remains unknown due to total denial by all expected to know, such as the Civil Aviation Authority, Greater Manchester Police, the Ministry of Defence and Military Facilities.

What we need to do ! :

1. Photograph or video film the black helicopters over Manchester.

2. Attempt to locate where the black helicopters are stored.

3. Continue to find out what the black helicopter operations are.

The military contact recently told us that these aircraft were apparently 70% American and 30% English. Also, Steve Yarwood’s contact has informed him that there will be a decrease in black helicopter activity because of the recent newspaper articles and reported sightings. In an attempt to let things die down a little.

Update: 2007.

MAPIT was contacted by a Captain from Fort Bragg Helicopter Snyper Unit, who wanted to know where we had obtained our information and what we intended to do with it. This was authenticated by researching the e-mail address used by the Captain and later we were contacted again by a gentleman asking is he could obtain our data. Due to further research this gentleman was identified as a U.S. intelligence officer. Finally, there have been media announcements during the common-wealth games that a number of these black helicopters were now being used through-out the UK...

Funny... No one would admit it when we first started the investigation.
In regards the last statement, this concludes that there really were Black Helicopters over Manchester.

Compiled by Steve Mera & Steve Yarwood.
Information in regards Secret Aircraft Paint carried out by Steve Yarwood.

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