About the Hangar Z Podcast
In August 2020, your host, Jon Gray, a police helicopter pilot in Southern California, created the Hangar Z Podcast, the first and only podcast dedicated to promoting and exploring the personnel and equipment behind the missions of public safety aviation.
In November 2020, Jeff Ratkovich, a former Southern California police helicopter pilot and current EMS helicopter pilot in Tennessee, joined forces with Jon as co-host.
The Hangar Z Podcast interviews are focused on the people filling all the various roles within the aerial fire fighting, search & rescue, EMS, and law enforcement sectors. We’ll bring you interviews with pilots, tactical flight officers, flight nurses & paramedics, and of course the backbones of any aviation unit operation, the aircraft maintenance technicians!
If you’re interested in an exciting career in public safety aviation, you will want to tune into the Hangar Z Podcast, where we seek to honor the past, promote the present and encourage the future of public safety aviation.
Hangar Z podcast founder and host, Jon Gray, is a Southern California native and second-generation police officer. Jon’s interest in public safety aviation began in childhood where he was exposed to tactical flight via the Anaheim Police Department’s Angel program. His father, a 32-year veteran of the Anaheim Police Department, encouraged this interest, and it eventually led him to pursue a career in public safety aviation. He is currently a helicopter pilot with the Ontario Police Department in Ontario, California.
After graduating from high school, Jon served as a part-time firefighter for the Crest Forest Fire Protection District while attending the Victor Valley Fire Academy and earning his EMT. His experience at Crest Forest Fire opened up the opportunity to work for the US Forest Service as a seasonal firefighter. Jon worked in this capacity for seven fire seasons while attending college at UC Santa Barbara.
After graduating college with a bachelor's degree in Sociology, Jon was hired by San Diego PD as a police officer. He later transferred to the Ontario Police Department where he worked patrol, was assigned to the Community Oriented Policing Unit as a graffiti investigator, and served collaterally as a hostage negotiator. After nine
years in the field, Jon was selected to become a part-time tactical flight officer in the air support unit. He was then selected to become a full-time tactical flight officer and was ultimately promoted to pilot in 2017.
During his hour plus commute to work Jon would listen to podcasts to pass the time. It wasn’t long before he noticed a void in the podcast segment that represented and promoted public safety aviation. To fill that void, Jon started the Hangar Z Podcast in August of 2020.
Hangar Z cohost, Jeff Ratkovich is an aviation expert with experience in the military, public safety, and private sectors. Born and raised in Northern California, with two Air Force bases in his hometown, Jeff was bitten by the aviation bug at a young age. Upon graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army National Guard where he served six years as a flight medic on MEDEVAC helicopters, while simultaneously serving on active duty with a National Guard counternarcotic taskforce.
After leaving active duty, Jeff moved to Southern California, where he attended a technical college to obtain his FAA Airframe & Powerplant certificate. For the next seven years, Jeff performed aircraft mechanic duties for America West Airlines. During that time, Jeff reenlisted in the National Guard and served as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief. He was deployed to Iraq from 2004 to 2005, where he flew more than six hundred hours in combat.
After returning from Iraq, in 2006, Jeff was hired as a police officer by the Riverside, CA Police Department. He spent five years as a patrol officer, where he held collateral assignments on the Mobile Field Force, Technical Services Unit (Bomb Squad) Search Team, and as an Air Unit Relief Tactical Flight Officer. Jeff also served as Field Training Officer, before being selected as a pilot trainee and fulltime member of the Air Support Unit.
While assigned to the Air Support Unit, Jeff was the Tactical Flight Officer Training Officer, where he helped to train newly assigned TFO’s on the mission, equipment, tactics, and techniques critical to the TFO role. Jeff spent eleven years assigned to the Air Support Unit, accumulating close to four thousand hours in both helicopters and airplanes, flying in support of patrol and surveillance operations.
In 2020, Jeff and his family relocated to the beautiful state of Tennessee, where he is a helicopter pilot for a major air ambulance company. Passionate about aviation, and the airborne enforcement mission in particular, Jeff was honored to join Jon as cohost of the Hangar Z Podcast in November 2020.