The Eerie Footage Behind This Floating Helicopter Explained

Okay, yes, helicopters are designed to float — it's basically their entire reason for being. They're machines that fly, what's the big deal? Well, if you take a look at a Twitter video shared by Science Is Amazing, people's excitement might start to make a bit more sense.

In the video, you can clearly see a helicopter slowly gliding over the camera operator, who appears to be in a field of some kind. That in itself isn't strange, but, in this case, the "glide" is literal as it appears the helicopter's blades aren't spinning. it seems odd because that's what's supposed to allos these things to get (and stay) off the ground. So how is that possible?

Is it a fancy new technology or a government secret? Was someone messing around in Blender? Will this herald the dawn of a new age or the fall of the current one? No. It's none of those things. The reason behind this gravity-defying flight of a machine that's supposed to fly but not like that is actually just a coincidence, with just the right elements lining up in just the right ways to create something that looks impossible.

So what's the deal?

The explanation behind this ethereal whirlybird is actually quite simple. There's nothing mystical or otherworldly about it, it's not CGI, and it's not a camera trick. Well, okay, that last part isn't technically true. It is a camera trick, but not in a visual effects sense.

What it comes down to is the rate that cameras record images in frames per second (fps). Video cameras by design basically record multiple (dozens, hundreds, or even thousands depending on the model and settings) images per second — much like a technologically advanced slide show. In the case of this video, the camera's recording fps essentially perfectly matches the speed of the helicopter's rotor rotation.

As the video camera is recording the helicopter, its blades just so happen to be oriented in the same position. So while they are spinning, the timing is perfectly synced to make them look stationary on film.