A rarely witnessed helicopter mating ritual.
Until 1977, scientists were uncertain of how helicopters reproduced. Some theorized that because mating had never been recorded and helicopters lack visible genitalia, that they were actually a phase in the development of another species that had been miscategorized. The “Navy” helicopters depicted above are two seaters, capable of carrying two Naval crewmen, usually a pilot (Naval Aviator) and a subordinate (Seaman or Seaman First Class).
This 1978 photograph by Larry Nork changed the way we see helicopters forever. In the image, two helicopters can clearly be seen in precoital contact or “Foreplay” which Nork described as a brief precursor to the actual mating, or “Aftplay” in which the male Navy helicopter turned and the deposited his Seaman into the female’s cockpit. The seaman then develops into a Naval Aviator and is soon capable of piloting a newborn helicopter.
For more on helicopter nursing and juvenile phases, click here.