It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of the black helicopter meme in conspiracism. And, while the following is certainly not the earliest date on which unmarked, harassing helicopters were reported (at least one source traces the genesis of reports to Hal Lindsay’s 1970 book The Late Great Planet Earth), it does provide both an interesting anecdote and an anchor in time to this phenomenon.
During investigation of an international arms smuggling ring in 1987, FBI special agents were called to a farm in rural Alabama to question a possible witness (“Mr. J”). In a pre-interview review of Bureau records on Mr. J, they discovered he’d previously written a letter to William Dickinson, the long-serving congressman and one-time ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. In his letter, Mr. J made unusual claims of a peculiar type of harassment. The original, 1987 FBI report detailing the contents of that letter was released to parapolitical, on request:
The identity of Mr. J, though redacted from the document provided to parapolitical, is known to the editor of this site. He is a highly decorated soldier and veteran of both the U.S. armed forces and a non-nation-affiliated military. We’re certain, however, that the description of events offered in his letter was most likely the result of situational paranoia, rather than a rational analysis of things that actually occurred.