The most expansive and ambitious aerial series in U.S. television history – “AERIAL AMERICA” – is taking a closer look at the nation’s great urban areas in a new six-part spinoff series, “AERIAL CITIES.” Each episode reveals fascinating insights in the day and night life of some of America’s most famed metropolises: Las Vegas, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Along with showcasing each city’s iconic landmarks and often-surprising history, the series’ 4K cameras capture a bird’s-eye perspective of the frenzy of work and play that make each city so distinctive – from morning yoga on Miami Beach to the dizzying job of changing a lightbulb at the top of Seattle’s Space Needle and the highest open-air cocktail bar in the Western Hemisphere in L.A.’s newest skyscraper.
In the series premiere, “Las Vegas 24,” the 24/7 entertainment capital of America requires some truly unique jobs – seen best from the air. Every day, specially trained scuba-diving engineers fine-tune the dancing fountains of the Bellagio, as window washers risk their lives rappelling down the glass pyramid of the Luxor. The colorful casinos, zip lines and shows might draw most of the attention, but just outside town are 200,000 acres of protected wilderness and a colossal pile of stone called Red Rock, a mecca for climbers.
Upcoming episodes include:
Premieres Sunday, April 15 at 8 PM ET/PT
A day in the skies over the Windy City is filled with surprises. Just after dawn, the “Legends of the Lake” – twin sisters Jennie and Julia Papilli – follow a ritual they began in 1946, swimming two miles in chilly Lake Michigan. Chicago is a city of skyscrapers, and while some visitors test the heights in glass observation boxes jutting out from the Willis Tower, others head to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center for a ride that tilts an entire window and floor out over the sidewalk 1,000 feet below. One rooftop serves as a training ground for Chicago’s firefighters, while another is an exercise yard for inmates. Connecting it all is the city’s rusty iron heart, its iconic “L” train.
Premieres Sunday, April 22 at 8 PM ET/PT
Filmed over Chief Seattle Days, which honor the Native American chief that gave the city its name, this episode connects past and present in one of the country’s most dynamic metropolitan areas. A tugboat towing timber to a lumberyard at the Port of Everett is a reminder of the industry that built Seattle, but there’s no missing the $4 billion urban campus of Amazon, which now occupies 19% of all prime office space in the city. From the air, viewers can also trace the journey of coffee giant Starbucks from its first store in Pike Place Market to its massive world headquarters at the Port of Seattle.
Premieres Sunday, April 29 at 8 PM ET/PT
From the bustling port that drives Florida’s economy and the neon-lit clubs of Miami Beach to the fascinating story of how Miami was founded, this episode reveals a city that’s about much more than sun and surf. From the air, viewers can trace the growth of Little Havana, built by Cuban exiles who still gather in Domino Park to meet old friends, and explore lesser-known corners of town like Liberty Square, which inspired the Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight.” Miami offers a rich mix of manmade and natural wonders, from the celebrity hideaways of Star Island to the pink flamingo haven of Hialeah Park, whose flamingo residents today are descendants of a single flock brought from Cuba in 1934.
“SAN FRANCISCO 24”
Premieres Sunday, May 6 at 8 PM ET/PT
With its famous hills, bridges and Bay, people could spend a day in San Francisco just admiring the views, but this aerial adventure explores the bustling heart of one of America’s busiest cities. Gridlocked morning commutes have inspired innovative solutions, from a rebirth of the ferry business to a network of wifi-enabled buses that transports armies of tech workers to Silicon Valley every day allowing them work while they ride. The tech boom is also reshaping the city’s famous skyline, which now boasts the second tallest building west of the Mississippi. As night falls, lighting engineers climbing the Bay Bridge show how technology meets art in the 25,000-LED-bulb spectacle Bay Lights, which started out as a temporary work and is now yet another iconic feature of San Francisco.
“LOS ANGELES 24”
Premieres Sunday, May 13 at 8 PM ET/PT
Taking wing over the City of Angels reveals much more than the secrets of Hollywood’s famous back lots. Three days a week, stardom seekers line up early in a nondescript Burbank warehouse district – home to Central Casting, which helps aspiring actors land background roles. L.A. might be best known as a TV and film capital, but it’s also home to the birth of surfing and skateboarding, which started in a Santa Monica neighborhood known as Dogtown. By air, viewers also can discover the hiding-in-plain-sight history of the city’s first big industry: oil. One working oil derrick is tucked into Cardiff Tower, and another is covered under a colorful wooden structure right next door to Beverly Hills High School.
Also premiering on April 8 is another new spinoff of Smithsonian Channel’s “AERIAL AMERICA” franchise – “AERIAL AFRICA.” This epic series explores stunning vistas and extraordinary stories from the tip of the continent in Cape Town, South Africa, to the powerful Zambezi River in Zambia. From the air, the series showcases the places, wildlife and personalities that have left a permanent imprint on Africa, including a young Xhosa boy who grew up to be Nelson Mandela, and the Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone, whose adventures in Africa became world-famous. The series ranges from the Wild South Coast to Johannesburg, Botswana, the Skeleton Coast of Namibia and the majestic lands of Zambia. “AERIAL AFRICA” premieres Sunday, April 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.