The 2022 American Hero’s Air Show

Story and photos by Jeff Serpa

The 2022 American Hero’s Air Show, the aviation experience dedicated to helicopters returned to Southern California November 12th.

First presented in 1993 at the Santa Monica Airport, the American Hero’s Air Show grown to become the nation’s premier helicopter-only aviation event. It has never wavered from its mission to educate Southern California about the unique capabilities’ rotary-wing aircraft used by first responders.  Helicopters were on display from local, state and Federal agencies for the public to see up close. Pilots and crews were on hand to answer questions and allow participants to climb in to helicopters and see them up close and personal.

The first aircraft begin arriving at 7am and continued to arrive until 9am.  The first in were local news choppers 11, NBC 4 (flown by Rob Rodriguez) and Channel 7 Air7HD. As aircraft arrived, they were strategically and safely placed.  These local news pilots have earned a large fan base and have become popular covering local news stories in southern California, such as vehicle pursuits on live television. 

Everything from local Los Angeles, Ventura County and Cal-Fire Firehawks, to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Super Puma, Air 5 participated. A NAS Lemoore Search and Rescue Seahawk, a Los Alamitos Army Medic Blackhawk as well as Search and Rescue Pavehawk Team from Nellis Air Force Base flew in to participate in the event.  The US Coast Guard also participated with a locally based MH-65 Dolphin. Some of these first responder teams were on active/alert call while at the show.

This event provides families with a rare opportunity to meet the flight crews of these diversely capable aircraft.   This display give first-hand understanding about why helicopters are often the first asset to arrive during wildfires, natural disasters, search & rescue operations or national security threats.

The Code 3 Career & Recruiting Expo had recruiting teams from law enforcement agencies from all over Southern California. Additionally, local Search and Rescue Teams rolled out with emergency vehicles, equipment displays and demonstrations.

The Professional Cars InternationalTeam rolled through the front gate with the “Rollin’ to the Rescue” vintage emergency vehicle presentation.  It was a sight to see from the vintage vehicles arriving to what they have become today for first responders. Once they arrived, a handful of these vehicle were one display for attendees to see up close.

Each year the American Hero’s Air show gets bigger and better. This year was no exception.  Airshow fans were treated to a surprise performance by the Red Bull-Flying Bulls Aaron Fitzgerald, in the Red Bull Helicopter.  His helicopter is a BO-105. 

This helicopter is a multipurpose light twin-engine German model that has flexible maneuverability and a fast-climbing performance that allows for rollovers and backflips to keep any audience on their toes.  His aerial performance is one of a kind and never disappoints.  Aaron does things in this helicopter you would never think were possible. 

Aaron represents Red Bull in the United States as an airshow pilot for helicopter aerobatics at Red Bull North America.  You can catch him and the Red Bull Team at multiple Airshows during airshow season across the country. Anytime you see the Red Bull team on an airshow schedule, you can bet there is going to be an epic performance. 

In addition to the static displays and booth displays, there were helicopter rides for purchase.  Two R-44’s helicopters were on site, giving helicopter fans a chance to see what it’s like to take a ride in one of these diverse machines.  These helicopters were busy all days long taking passengers up continuously throughout the show.

The American Hero Air Show has put on displays across the country for many years. These shows are not possible without the hard work and dedication of the volunteers behind the scenes.  Organizer/Executive Producer Jim Paules and California Event Director Steve Goldsworthy have once again organized a successful show, with a solid team behind them.  There was not only unseen work behind the scenes at this show.  Air Boss Dave Andrews and his ground crew were busy nonstop.  Arrivals and departures safety was priority.  They also had to be ready to clear spectators in a moment’s notice should an alert crew need to responds to call out form the show. Their coordination and efforts kept everyone from spectators to the crews safe, which contributed to a successful show. If you love helicopters and aviation, this is show is must attend, you will not be disappointed. 

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