A PODCASTER from Barrington travelled to the USA to meet the pilot of a RedBull Aerobatic Helicopter.

Louis Skupien, born in Taunton, was in Los Angeles in June after recording an episode of his podcast with Aaron Fitzgerald, who is “one of only two people who has an aerobatic license”.

“On the day after my 21st birthday in May, I podcasted with Aaron Fitzgerald.

“Aaron is the RedBull Aerobatic Helicopter pilot in the USA. He is one of only two people who has an aerobatic license and is the only person in the world who holds an FAA surface-level aerobatic card.

Chard & Ilminster News: Louis (right) and Aaron in the helicopterLouis (right) and Aaron in the helicopter (Image: Contributed)

“His air shows are often jaw-dropping, with him performing backflips, front flips, rolls, loops, and a mix of various aerobatic manoeuvres which appear to be defying the laws of physics.

“At the end of our fantastic podcast episode where Aaron explained in-depth about his career and the RedBull Helicopter, he invited me out to LA to jump in the helicopter with him and go and experience the aerobatics he performs in the airshows, with me in the Co-Pilot seat.

“I jumped at the opportunity and booked flights for June 23, and found myself heading to Oxnard Airport on the afternoon of the 24 to meet Aaron.

“My family were absolutely terrified for me and requested that I only report in when I had both feet firmly planted back on the ground! I was absolutely nervous but incredibly excited to pull some G’s again and see what Aaron could throw at me.

“I arrived at the airport and met Aaron. After a warm welcome and a good catch-up, we hopped in his car and drove down the side of the runway to his hangar, with the RedBull helicopter closing in from the distance.

“Whilst driving, Aaron explained to me that this experience is ‘a very rare occurrence and very few people have gotten the opportunity’ and that RedBull are very strict on passenger flights as it is really only for RedBull pro athletes.”

Chard & Ilminster News:

The RedBull helicopter is a BO-105 former German Army “Light Attack” and Anti-Tank helicopter that has a highly over-engineered rotor system which allows for exceptional maneuverability.

RedBull also stripped it down and modified it to make it as light and agile as possible.

Louis added: “After a briefing and a chance for me to equip the BO-105 with my 5 GoPro cameras and get strapped in, Aaron turned the engines on and we took off. After a quick beach flyby, we headed out to sea and to Aaron’s airshow practise location.

“We then went on to do the aerobatics, beginning with a backflip, going onto rolls and front flips which almost every time involved us being completely upside down and looking up at the sea, which was often closing in very quickly.

“All the Aerobatics took us to about 3.5 positive G’s which was very pressurising, and also had us at less than 0 gravity. It was an absolute thriller.

“If I had to choose the best one, I would say that the front flip was the scariest and quite literally made my stomach drop and felt like a rollercoaster ride from hell.

“When we got back, we got some fantastic pictures and signed photos and I learned lots about the helicopter.

"I was also relieved that my cameras had all recorded exactly as planned and the ones which were attached outside the helicopter stayed in place.” 

Louis's video can also be found on his YouTube channel