I’ve heard of “Nap-of-the-earth” flying, but “Nap-of-the-semi”???


A tweet from Ukraine shows a helicopter demonstrating what it means to fly “nap-of-the-earth” – over a highway, with vehicles.  Click the image for a larger view.

You’ll find a video clip of the incident in this tweet.

I imagine that must have given a number of drivers a hair-raising experience . . . or should that be hair-trimming?



  1. An airborne Doppler radar would have a hard time picking out the helo from the traffic. That may be the tactic here.

  2. That is "low level" flight!! Had a squadron mate 45 years ago that went out with an Army friend, helicopter pilot from an undisclosed location on a nape of the earth flight. He actually picked a pine cone from the top of a tree.

  3. Firecapt nailed it.

    If that Hind keeps it under 80 MPH, any look-down airborne radars can't pick him out of road traffic.

  4. Was out cycling the range roads of Ft Lewis and a blackhawk came out of nowhere from behind and passed a "good' 20 feet over my head. Almost lost control of my bike…and had to clean my shorts.

  5. I was a crew chief in the Army and have a picture somewhere I took of us buzzing boats on the Hudson River in a UH-1H. We'd gone up to fly West Point cadets around and had some time between flights to sight-see.

  6. The helicopter blades would have a distinctive doppler signature (like a tornado some of it is coming at you fast, some of it headed away fast). Question is can you resolve it (would depend on band, X band likely, S or L maybe) and can you pick the signal out of the noise. Can a Russian Airborne radar do it? I bet no. Can a US AWACS? Beats me, though its old enough that my money is no unless the the processing hardware has been updated. Newest airborne was JLENS meant for spotting cruise missiles and drones, though that ended up purely experimental, too darned expensive and Obama's people thought wasn't the way warfare was going to go. I didn't work on the processing side of things and even if I did know (I don't) I likely couldn't say, that kind of information is kept tight to the vest.

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