Los Angeles: Today from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., the Hooper Memorial Heliport in downtown Los Angeles will become home to the largest public safety aviation exercise in the nation.
Recognizing the critical role air traffic controllers have in aviation safety, Air Support Division (ASD) personnel started the Chili Fly-in as a gesture of their appreciation. Until the Chili Fly-in, air traffic controllers and police aviators rarely, if ever, met face to face. The value of the Chili Fly-in was very quickly realized to be far beyond a bowl of chili.
In some of the most congested airspace in the world, air traffic controllers in this region must regularly interact with public safety aviators who are frequently engaged in very non-traditional flights, such as vehicle pursuits, surveillance operations and other tactical operations. The annual chili luncheon began to foster relationships and a mutual understanding of the roles played by the participants.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Chili Fly-in has evolved into a disaster preparedness exercise and is currently conducted in compliance with the principles and guidelines established by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Response Framework (NRF). The Chili Fly-in allows all involved to develop, practice and refine the tactics, techniques and procedures that would be used in the event that a major man-made or natural disaster requires the use of the LAPD heliport as a public safety aviation command post or transportation hub.
During the Chili Fly-in exercise, the Hooper Memorial Heliport is the busiest heliport in the world, with aircraft movements at less than one-minute intervals.
Captain James Miller, Commanding Officer of Air Support Division said, "The Chili Fly-In is a dynamic exercise were we focus on the task required for the movement of a large number of rescue personnel and other responders by helicopter through the Hooper Heliport in response to a major disaster. It requires the involvement of all of Air Support’s personnel, as well as a coordinated effort with our regional partners in public safety aviation."