Helicopter Heroes is a British daytime television series, following the lifesaving work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. The first episode aired on 3 September 2007 and a total of seven series have been made.
In 2012–13 the team produced a 10 part series called Helicopter Heroes Down Under, featuring the work of British medics working in Australia. A second, 15 part series is now in production for broadcast in the UK in January 2015.
First screened on BBC One in 2007, its first presenter was Top Gear's Richard Hammond. He agreed to front the show to thank the Yorkshire Air Ambulance crew which flew him to hospital in after his near-fatal jet engine powered car crash, at Elvington airfield near York, in September 2006.
Very high audience appreciation ratings (AIs) led the BBC to re-commission the show and it has been in production ever since. Several series have been repeated in a primetime slot in slightly shortened form (30 minutes).
Since series 2 (2008), it has been fronted by ex-cop and former Crimewatch presenter Rav Wilding. Series 6 was broadcast in Autumn 2012, with a further ten episodes scheduled for May 2013.
The first series of Helicopter Heroes Down Under was shown in April 2013 on BBC Two, narrated by Joe Crowley. This was then repeated on BBC One and led to a second series being commissioned, which is now in production and due for transmission in the UK in January 2015.
The crew of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance service operation are:
Unusually, Helicopter Heroes is entirely edited in a hangar at Leeds Bradford Airport and shot by a small team from BBC English Regions using Sony EX3 and PMW200 HD cameras. The team also uses a collection of GoPro cameras both as 'Medicams' (Body Mounted Cameras on the Paramedics) and also 5 camera's located within the helicopter for stationary shots. Helicopter Heroes was among the first producer-shot observational documentary commissioned by the BBC HD Channel. They have flown more than 2,000 missions in the Yorkshire Air Ambulance's two MD900 Explorer helicopters.
Helicopter Heroes is well known for its dramatic air-to-air footage, its extensive use of aerial pictures of the Yorkshire countryside and body-cams.
The programme captured dramatic footage of the aftermath of the Cumbria shootings during Summer 2010. The team also filmed what is thought to be the first footage of a patient - air ambulance dispatcher Chris Solomons - actually suffering a heart attack, going into cardiac arrest and being revived with CPR and a defibrillator. This is now widely used around the world as a training aid for police, firefighters, air ambulance crews and paramedics.
The "Down Under" series was filmed in Australia during early 2013. Series two of "Down Under" is currently in production, preparing for broadcast at the end of 2014.
The 7th series of Helicopter Heroes, with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, is now in production for transmission in the Autumn of 2013 and the Spring of 2014. The series will contain 20 episodes in total.
Helicopter Heroes has aired in Australia (series 1–2 on LifeStyle Channel), New Zealand and Scandinavia.