Season 3 of ‘The Aviators’ takes off

The television reality show “The Aviators,” which follows the adventures of a group of pilots and aviation experts, has launched its third season.

The debut episode of Season 3 became available to PBS stations across the U.S. Sept. 17, with each of the season’s 13 additional installments becoming available every proceeding Monday. Viewers can purchase the entire season on iTunes for $14.99, receiving the first episode for free, and gain access to a new episode from Season 3 every Tuesday to follow. Viewers can check with their local PBS affiliate to identify individual program airdates.

The Aviators claims a viewership of close to 10 million per week in the United States alone, and the program’s producers estimate that its full international viewership — which encompasses Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and more — tops 30 million viewers per week. When The Aviators premiered on iTunes in 2011, it ranked as a top download during its launch week. The show has also been presented with a Hugo Award in the category of educational and documentary series.

Season 3 will be marked by frequent appearances by the USAF Thunderbirds, an elite air demonstration squadron of the United States Air Force, known as America’s “Ambassadors in Blue.” In one segment, The Aviators’ host, Kurtis Arnold, receives training from a Thunderbirds pilot in a Curtiss P-6 Hawk Fighter — one of the US Army’s earliest fighter biplanes. Arnold’s P-6 flight training is part of a larger program to learn to fly the revered P-51 Mustang.

“As an aviation entity, the Thunderbirds are rock stars,” said Anthony Nalli, one of the hosts and producers of The Aviators. “Military aviation is a key element in many of our segments. It’s always been of interest to the public, from the F-22 Raptor which we also feature in Season 3, to the old Warbirds harking back to the P-51 Mustang or the B22 Bomber. It’s terrific to see that we’re reinvigorating public enthusiasm for these fighter planes, as well as their more modern counterparts.”

Another Season 3 storyline follows Vince Neil, the often controversial lead singer of Motley Crue, as he buckles down during a two-week pilot training program. Neil’s participation is part of Sennheiser Audio’s “Live Your Dream” program, in which this global audio manufacturer encourages students to pursue their piloting inclinations. Viewers can tune in to three separate episodes to witness whether this long-time rock-and-roller succeeds in the skies.

“The entire aviation community, including military aviation, trusts us implicitly, which allows us to get more captivating and relevant footage for our fan base,” continued Nalli. “We’re not TV producers who are dipping a toe into aviation in order to fill up a broadcast schedule — we’re professional aviators, vested in the piloting community, who happen to be putting together a television show. This helps us provide an immersive experience that the most nominal aviation enthusiast will enjoy, allowing the viewers to get right into the aircraft with us. We’re proud to extend such an exclusive opportunity to the public. It’s how we’ve earned such a broad and devoted viewership.”

The Aviators will make its series debut on Blu-ray in time for Christmas 2012, and Seasons 1 and 2 are currently available on DVD. Fans can consult an episode guide on The Aviators’ website, located under the site’s TV Show tab, for more information on the series.

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