American Heroes Air Show Soars

Photos by Julian MITCHELL
Cal Fire brought one of its Bell UH-1H “Super Huey” aircraft to the American Heroes Air Show.

By Julian MITCHELL, intern

The American Heroes Air Show returned to Hansen Dam celebrating its 25th anniversary of hosting helicopters and aviation services. The show hosted over 15 helicopters on display to the public, many of which were open for attendees to climb in and explore.

“It gives people a chance to educate themselves on helicopters,” said Christy Evans, a volunteer with the American Heroes Air Show.

Many of the helicopters remain on active duty and, consequently, some were unable to attend because they were called into service.

merican Heroes Air Show started in Santa

The American Heroes Air Show also hosts a citizenship event through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Dept., and on Saturday granted over 50 children their U.S. citizen status.

“Today is the finish line for these families,” said Donna Campagnolo, U.S. CIS District director of Los Angeles.

The path to citizenship for children is relatively simple compared to the path their parents. The children who received their citizenship did so because their parents had already gone through the court system to obtain citizenship. Upon completion, children were automatically eligible to receive citizenship.

Those being inducted as citizens represented 21 different countries including families from Armenia and Egypt.

Classic emergency response vehicles paraded onto the grounds as part of the show.

The American Heroes Air Show also is one of the biggest recruiting events for federal and state emergency responders. Over 20 different agencies were represented, from local police forces to the U.S. Forest Service.

“We wouldn’t be able to handle about 50% of fires as well if we didn’t have the helicopter,” said Fire Patrol Captain Richard “Ranger Rick” Hilstein with the U.S. Forest Service.

The U.S. Forest Service is one level of emergency responders that relies greatly on aviation services. Although many planes and pilots are contracted out, the Forest Service does retain one helicopter to help with forest fires.

Hilstein, who has been with the U.S. Forest Service for 12 years, also noted that this event is a good chance for the department to attract potential new employees to one of their 33,000 jobs.

“Fire safety is just a small percentage of what we do,” said Hilstein.

The day was highlighted by multiple demonstrations of emergency responders and their helicopters in action. In addition to helicopter rides in smaller commercial helicopters, a parachute jump, water drop and emergency rescue operations were all demonstrated for the crowd.

For those who prefer four-wheeled vehicles, the American Heroes Air Show also served up some awesome automobiles.

The “Roll into the Rescue Auto Show” is a showcase of historic emergency response vehicles that have been bought and restored by a group composed of mainly retired emergency responders.

The time-worn fire trucks and ambulances began their trek in Burbank and traveled the streets to Hansen Dam where they remained on display for the duration of the event.

The American Heroes Air Show started in Santa Monica in 1993 and has grown to show more and more aspects of aviation.

“The event has become more robust … but we’ve retained the basic structure that we started out with,” said Jim Paules, the volunteer executive producer of the show.

Attendance has been consistent over the years with many attendees coming year after year since its inception.

For more information, future events and to see the American Heroes Air Show helicopter trading cards, visit