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American Heroes Air Show Lands in Lake View Terrace Annual Event Showcases Helicopter Flight Exhibitions at Hansen Dam PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia, Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 19 June 2014 02:16

A. Garcia / SFVS

The Heroes Air Show will feature many varieties of helicopters like the U.S. Army copter pictured here.

The American Heroes Air Show, an annual event that showcases helicopter flying and its crews, gets ready to land this Saturday, July 21, at the Hansen Dam Recreation Center in Lake View Terrace.

“Hansen Dam is a perfect site for the type of events we do, which is all helicopters,” said James Paulsen, founder of the event.

“It offers a large, basically flat area where we can land the helicopters on the soccer field. It also provides visual cues for the pilots who may not be familiar with the area, including some candy-striped smoke stacks for the pilots to see, as well as the dam.”

The event — which has been taking place since 1993, only taking a breather a couple of years ago when it was idled by the famous “Carmageddon" weekend that closed the 405 Freeway — attracts between 3,000 to 5,000 spectators. It began at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport, but quickly outgrew that location and moved to Hansen Dam in 1996.

Besides Los Angeles, the air show is held in Austin, Texas; Gainesville, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; and Seattle, Washington. Other air shows are being planned for Denver, Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Months Of Planning

It all started with Paulsen’s penchant for helicopters and law enforcement.

“Back in my younger days I really thought I was going to go into law enforcement," said Paulsen, who works in Real Estate Development. But when that didn't materialize, he put his effort in producing the show and found others with a similar fondness for helicopters.

“We soon realized it struck a nerve with people who love rotary wing aviation,” he said.

Despite his love for helicopters, Paulsen admits he’s still not a pilot. “It’s frustrating a little bit for me. I never had the proper alignment of money and time to get my rotary wing aviation pilot license,” he said.

Preplanning for the American Heroes Air Show takes between six to eight months: aligning sponsors, getting the site in order, setting up attractions, etc. But Paulsen does it willingly.

“It’s all volunteerdriven and we’ve been able to keep the entrance free. For many of us involved in the event, it is a show of respect and a way to honor and recognize the work that these flight crews on helicopters do in saving lives, protecting property and safeguarding our environment,” he said.

Different from traditional air shows that feature the famed Blue Angels and Thunderbirds, that offer incredible aerial demonstrations but are often far from spectators, the American Heroes Air Show enables viewers an opportunity to get up close and personal with the flight crews and their machines.

“Kids can go into the helicopters and their parents can talk to the crews and ask questions,” Paulsen said. “These are real heroes. These guys save lives. These guys are the ones doing the real job."

“In Los Angeles, you get at best three minutes or sixty seconds of watching these helicopters dropping water on a fire or hoisting somebody up. Here you can meet these pilots. These are heroes you can really look up," said Paulsen.


While the show keeps primarily showcases dozens of police and rescue helicopters from different law enforcement agencies — as well as the CODE3 Career Expo featuring recruiting teams from law enforcement, public service and the military — there’s still space for innovation.

This year a team from Disney Studios is bringing and interactive display for the entire family promoting their new film, “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” The display will include a flight simulator that kids can get into and fly with a mission with the film's main character, “Dusty.” There will also be other games and children activities.

“The movie is all about second chances and teamwork, which is a lot of the themes that the Air Show is highly aligned with,” Paulsen said.

And there will be a demonstration by Chuck Aaron and the Red Bull Flight Team, a special helicopter team that will perform aerial acrobatics — one of only two people in the world authorized to do rolls and flips in helicopter — “a demonstration that you do not want to miss,” Paulsen said.

To make it easy for people to park (something that's been a challenge in the past as the number of attendees grow), the show will feature a free shuttle from the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center to the event site.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 02:29