History, Helicopters and More at American Heroes Airshow

With more than 20 helicopters on display, plus much more, the American Heroes Airshow will meet goals to educate, communicate and demonstrate.

Photo by AHAS A Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk prepares to land at a previous American Heroes Airshow.

By Sabrina SHELTON

In the wake of the recent fires, and with Veterans Day fast approaching, there is no better way to honor and celebrate first responders than by attending the American Heroes Airshow. Held at the Hansen Dam sports complex since 1996, this aviation experience will please helicopter enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds.

The event is organized and run by volunteers ¬– those with experience in firefighting and first responding as well as those who are just interested in the specifics of airborne firefighting.

Jim Paules, executive producer of the event, could not be more excited.

“Hansen Dam has been a wonderfully supportive community. Lake View Terrace has been gracious and supportive of the show. It’s been a pleasure to work with the Lake View Terrace team and the Parks and Rec team,” he said.

Working with an accommodating community – and the promise of clear skies – nearly guarantees this year’s show a success.

Paules first learned of the community’s interest in and support of the show several years ago when curious neighbors came out at 7 a.m. to watch the helicopters land at Hansen Dam though the event didn’t start until 9 a.m.

The motto of the event each year is to educate, communicate, demonstrate. To that end the airshow features demonstrations, display aircraft, first responder personnel and history. There will be nearly 20 helicopters on display from several different agencies including fire and police departments, DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], Homeland Security and privately owned vintage helicopters.

The jewel of the display aircrafts this year is the Bell 47G helicopter, on display courtesy of the LAFD [Los Angeles Fire Dept.] Historical Society. It’s been a 40-year process to restore and refurbish the vintage copter, complete with the bubble front cabin that some may recognize from the series “M*A*S*H.” By having both vintage and current helicopters on display, people can see where design ideas were born and how technology evolved. The Bell 47G will be rededicated to the fire department at 1 p.m.

“It’s especially poignant after the fires last week,” Paules said of the rededication. “The public can see the past and future of airborne firefighting.”

For those who want to experience helicopter flight up close and personal, Star Helicopters will be providing helicopter rides around the Dam for a small fee. For those who prefer keeping both feet on solid ground, there will be hoist rescue and water drop demos. The show offers an opportunity to see how airborne firefighting works.

“People have been so enamored with the work the firefighters have done just in the last week,” Paules said. He added an invitation to “come meet the heroes you can really look up to.”

There will also be a citizenship ceremony at 10 a.m. presented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Thirty-eight minors will be recognized as American citizens in a ceremony led by LAFD and a mounted equestrian team.

For those who want to turn their interests into a job, there will be career recruitment stations for the police and fire departments.

Spectacle aside, the Airshow is about bringing the community together and honoring and learning from the past. A heartwarming occurrence every year for Paules is when grandparents bring their families and talk about their personal history with firefighting. He said that it’s great to see the younger generation get excited about their family’s service and history.

The American Heroes Airshow is Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Hansen Dam aquatic complex, 11798 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace. The event is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; free parking and free admission.