Some people turn to the sky on Memorial Day weekend expecting fireworks. But on Long Island in New York, there will be another spectacle in the sky.
The Red Bull Aerobatic Helicopter, model BO105 C, is the only helicopter in the world that can do stunts such as barrel rolls and flips the way a stunt plane could.
The helicopter will be a featured part of an air show over the Memorial Day weekend near the Long Island town of Bethpage. But some New Yorkers got a sneak preview of the show on Saturday, May 18, when pilot Aaron Fitzgerald gave a demonstration of the helicopter’s stunt abilities over the Statue of Liberty.
Fitzgerald is one of just two pilots in the United States who are licensed to be aerobatic helicopter pilots.
A former paratrooper in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, Fitzgerald now lives in Los Angeles, where he jokes that navigating city traffic can be much more treacherous than flying a stunt aircraft.
His training as a pilot has also given him opportunities in Hollywood, where he has flown helicopters on-camera for TV shows such as “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Masterchef” and “Dirty Jobs.”
The helicopter is owned by a group who call themselves The Flying Bulls. Consisting of former service members from across the globe, highly skilled pilots and airplane technicians, the group works in partnership with Red Bull (the energy drink company), resulting in the famous ad slogan “Red Bull gives you wings.”
The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park is a Memorial Day weekend tradition, celebrating its 16th anniversary in May 2019.