American Heroes Showcase Aerial Firefighters in California

The 2022 American Heroes Air Show, dedicated to public safety-focused helicopter operations, returned to Southern California on November 12th, 2022.

First presented in 1993 at the Santa Monica Airport, the American Heroes Air Show has grown to become the nation’s premier helicopter-only aviation event. The event has never wavered from its mission to educate about the unique capabilities of rotary-wing aircraft used by first responders, holding air shows in Southern California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia over the years.

The public safety-related show was the brainchild of Jim Paules, a Southern California native with a passion for aviation and public safety. The event, soon to be in its 30th year, has grown from a small local show to a multi-state annual event that has continued to grow in popularity over the years as it provides information to the public on the importance of rotary aviation in public safety.

Helicopters were on display at the show held at Hansen Dam 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 see the aircraft up close and personal.

The first aircraft began arriving at 7 am and continued to arrive until 9 am. The first was 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, and a 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 calls while at the show.

This event provides families with a rare opportunity to meet the flight crews of these diversely capable aircraft.   This display gives a first-hand understanding of 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 all over Southern California. Local Search and Rescue Teams also rolled out with emergency vehicles, equipment displays, and demonstrations.

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, an MBB (now Airbus) BO-105.

The American Hero Air Show would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the volunteers behind the scenes. Those volunteers include dedicated professionals like California Event Director Steve Goldsworthy, who organized a successful show once again. His team included Air Boss Dave Andrews and his ground crew, who were busy managing arrivals and departures safely throughout the show. Their coordination and efforts kept everyone safe, from spectators to the crews, which contributed to a successful show. If you love helicopters and aviation, this show is a must-attend for those with a background or interest in aerial firefighting or the public safety aviation segment.

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