A son waving to his mom, while touching, isn’t exactly news. But, when the son is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army and waves to his mother with the “back and forth” dip of an Apache attack helicopter, leading a squadron of seven such choppers on their way from Alaska – well, to quote the screams of his mother: “It was awesome.” “It was so awesome,” Brenda Yochim yelled, just seconds after seven Apache helicopters traversed the skies over the Santa Clarita Valley in V-formation. “He did a tilt,” she said, still excited. “He did a back and forth tilt like he was waving. Then, he did a circle. It was so cool.” Lt. Col. Jaysen Yochim, a Canyon High School grad class of ‘91 who grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley, is now commander of the 1-25 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion of Apache helicopters out of Fort Wainright, a US Army post near Fairbanks, Alaska. So, when he learned about scheduled training for his pilots in Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, he saw a chance to lead his squadron of seven helicopters from Alaska to California, right over his mother’s home in the SCV. “I had one of two routes to take – over the Tehachapi Mountains or over the Grapevine. I decided to go over the Grapevine. “I was the front aircraft,” he said. “I wiggled my wings. That’s how we say ‘Hi.’” And, since his flight plan included re-fueling at the General William J. Fox Airfield – known as Fox Field – in Lancaster, his mother, grandfather and other relatives had a chance to meet him there. “He’s doing it for me. He’s doing it for mom,” Brenda Yochim told The Signal. “He did it for me and my father.” Her father is 95-year-old World War II vet Dee Larsen. “It’s because of him I fell in love with flying,” Jaysen Yochim said about his grandfather. “We were always going to air shows.” Was his grandfather excited at the fly-over prospect?
“Oh yeah,” his mother said, noting other relatives had made the journey from their homes in Santa Maria to be here for the once-in-a-lifetime honor.
At 2:46 p.m. Friday, seven evenly-spaced Apache helicopters crossed the Santa Clara River from the north, having flown over the Grapevine, making their way over the Whittaker-Bermite property. And, while his chosen fly route – taking in a stretch of Highway 14 and Canyon Country neighborhoods – was designed with his mother in mind, hundreds of SCV residents who turned out to greet the airborne armada seized the chance to witness the event. In one of several photos posted online documenting the event, a boy is seen standing on the hood of a car, proudly waving an American flag. The show of respect did not go unnoticed. “It was really nice seeing how many people came out,” Jaysen Yochim said. “It was very impressive.”
Friday’s flyover was the squadron’s maiden voyage, he said, noting the squad has only been in existence for about a year.
After a quick half-hour bite to eat with his family, while the choppers were being refueled, Jaysen Yochim was back in the air, on his way to training.
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American four-blade attack helicopter with a cockpit that accommodates a crew of two.
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