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New Red Bull Helicopter Pilot Ready for First AirVenture
May 24, 2018 - 2018 is a year of firsts for Aaron Fitzgerald, EAA 1272985. It’s his first year performing as an air show pilot, and when he’s piloting a Red Bull helicopter in Oshkosh this July it will actually be his first visit to AirVenture as well.
Although he’s never been, Aaron has heard plenty about what Oshkosh is like, and said he’s thrilled to attend in the unique capacity of being a featured performer during the air show.
“I’m honored to be on the roster that’s included some really big names of aviation over many, many years performing at AirVenture,” he said. “I’m humbled by it. I feel a small amount of pressure, in a good way.”
Although he’s new to AirVenture and to aerobatics, Aaron is not new to flying. After he served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army, he went through civilian flight training in Long Beach, California, and began working as a pilot right after. From flying crews building power lines to flying news helicopters, Aaron got plenty of flight time in.
Aaron had a relationship with Red Bull after working in a different capacity with the company for years in his previous career, so when his predecessor, Chuck Aaron, retired he got a chance to go for the gig. He said flying aerobatics was about as far from the other flying he’d done as it gets.
“I was honored to be chosen for the training,” Aaron said. “I wasn’t sure how well I would do because I hadn’t flown a lot of aerobatics, obviously. A lot of the training was basically me unlearning the things I had learned for the last 20 odd years. It was a challenge, making the transition, for sure, but I’ve really been enjoying it.”
After completing his aerobatic training and getting his Statement of Aerobatic Competency at the end of 2017, Aaron was all set to go for the 2018 air show season. Performing has been a different experience for him, but one he certainly enjoys.
“It’s a tremendous experience to be able to share it with everybody and show people what the helicopter can do, and introduce everyone to that side of flying,” Aaron said. “It’s a great honor for me, for sure. It’s fun to be in front of a crowd, it gives you energy. I hadn’t done that before.”
Being able to add another chapter to his aviation journey has been great for Aaron, who said he never knew a time in his life where he didn’t want to be flying.
“For me, aviation has just always been a huge interest of mine,” he said. “It’s something I was focused on even when I was a little kid. I don’t remember aspiring to ever do anything else. There was no one moment when I decided to pursue it. It was just something I always knew I’d try to do if I could, and I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to do it.”