Staffed around the clock at Fire Station 114, which is located on the grounds of Van Nuys Airport, LAFD Air Operations, comprises five helicopters and a team of pilots ready to respond at a moment’s notice. Its primary missions include: brush fire suppression, search and rescue, hoist operations, and air ambulance.
In the fall of 2017, however, the pilots and crew of Air Ops stepped up during one of the busiest wildfire seasons in decades. Beginning with the La Tuna fire over Labor Day Weekend and ending with the Creek and Skirball fires in December, Air Ops flew dozens of water-dropping missions, protecting lives and property throughout the city.
Thousands of hours of training and years of experience flying real-world firefighting missions enable the highly specialized Air Ops pilots to tackle challenging and continuously shifting weather and firefighting conditions, and that doesn’t end when the sun goes down. Equipped with night-vision goggles, they continue to deliver precision water drops over neighborhoods at all hours, assisting their ground-based colleagues with structure protection when fire encroached on a neighborhood.
Handled expertly by these specialized LAFD pilots, aerial firefighting is often the key ingredient to containing wildfires before they cause widespread damage and destruction. The members of the LAFD Air Operations Section stand ready to answer the call. For their steadfast professionalism in the face of extreme danger, we salute them.