Career Day

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Career Day
Episode # 105
Air Date Oct 20, 1977
Briefing Getraer's slide show and a freeway burglar
Title screen

Brief Plot

Young man on the rise: Ponch patrols in Chopper 5...and speaks at his alma mater's Career Day.


A frat prank goes bad

A woman is seen driving through neighborhoods looking for houses where people obviously aren't home. She then radios to a partner in a van who parks on the side of the freeway and breaks in from the rear. Ponch and Jon ride past the van after seeing that it's tagged. As they arrive at an intersection, a hearse speeds through and loses a coffin when turning. They chase after a speeding hearse while Baricza investigates the coffin. He finds a fraternity member inside (alive). After the hearse gets severe tire damage, Ponch and Jon arrest the other ΟΤΛ frat brothers.

Mr. Singleton encounters one of his former students

After the theme, Ponch and Jon find a car driving the wrong way down a one way street. Ponch tells him to pull over and realizes its his old high school principal, Mr. Singleton. He tries to avoid making eye contact, but gets identified. Ponch doesn't back down and issues a ticket.

At the briefing, Getraer finishes a slideshow of new meters that Caltrans is installing and has Barkley take the screen down while Baker and Poncherello try sneaking in the back. Next, he updates everyone on a series of burglaries along the freeways.

Models doing a photoshoot on the freeway

After the briefing, Ponch and Jon respond to a call about a freeway traffic jam on the Ventura Freeway. They find that everyone's gawking at models nearby. Jon can't convince the models to leave until he mentions jail. As they're about to leave, Baricza tells Ponch he got a 10-21 from Mr. Singleton.

Ponch is invited to speak at career day

Ponch and Jon swing by Lehigh Polytechnical High School. As he's headed in, Ponch's motor falls over and a spark plug breaks off. Once he's inside the school, Ponch learns that Mr. Singleton wants to see him to have him be a guest speaker on career day.

Meanwhile, the burglars are at it again and manage to rip off another home.

Ponch goes up in Helicopter 5

Ponch returns to Central with his motor on a trailer and Getraer is outside to see it. He's obviously upset at the number of problems Ponch has had. He tries to explain it using Lou's motorcycle as a visual reference, but Getraer can't hear him over the landing helicopter. Getraer assigns him to the front desk. When the helicopter pilot, Marty, comes in looking for an observer, Ponch jumps at the chance to go up in the helicopter.

The lost boy is taken back in the helicopter

In Helicopter 5, Ponch assists Jon on the ground respond to a call for a lost boy. Ponch spots him by a dam. They land the helicopter and the boy eagerly accepts an offer for a ride home. The helicopter lands in a park where Baricza is waiting with the boy's mother.

Ponch spots the thieves' van

Later, Ponch notices a stopped van on the Ventura Freeway at Winnetka. Baricza, Jon, and Fritz deny having tagged it. After the suspects drive off, Jon and Baricza chase it on the ground. They only manage to catch the van because of Ponch's observations.

Ponch talks to the student body

That afternoon, Ponch is called to the stage to give his career day speech. He freezes up and Jon walks on stage to help. Jon tells how Ponch saved a dog (as seen in "Dog Gone") and saved a kids life. That gets Ponch going and he starts telling exaggerated stories without help. As the credits roll, Ponch tells stories and the audience looks at their watches.

Great Quote

"Go easy on the chopper. We don't have that many."
-Getraer to Ponch

Guest Stars



Fun Facts

  • The scene where the coffin comes out of the hearse is seen in the Space Ghost: Coast to Coast episode titled "CHiPs".
  • Jon has a bandage on his right elbow. It's clearly visible when they're inside Mr. Singleton's office. There's no explanation of where it came from, but it's likely the result of a motorcycle accident similar to the one Erik Estrada had before filming "Dog Gone". (You can still see evidence of that accident on Erik's right forearm in this episode.)
  • We learn that Ponch's middle name is Llewellyn and that he attended Lehigh Polytechnical High School ("Poly High").
  • Chopper 5's FAA registration number is N59539. It is a Bell 206B manufactured in 1974. According to, it is currently registered to Altar Helicopters LLC in Wilmington, Delaware. (FAA Registration Information)
  • The "coffin" scene at the start of the episode was filmed at the junction of Riverside Drive and Bob Hope Drive, with Forest Lawn in the background (took a bit of finding) [1]
  • The tunnel where the van U-turns during the helicopter chase is the second of three twin tunnels on Kanan Dume Road north of Malibu. The road opened in the late '60s, but it looks like only the south bore of tunnel was finished when the scene was filmed. View in Google Maps


  • After Jon mentions that the "disabled" van has already been tagged, it is clear in the next shot of Jon that there is no van on the side of the road and that they are not in the same location (note the lack of trees and the mountainous terrain visible) as the van.
  • The overhead shot immediately after the briefing is reversed and the traffic is moving in the wrong direction. (In the United States, cars travel on the right side of the road.)
  • The scars on Ponch's right arm are visible while he is talking to the trucker on the side of the road. They were missing in the previous episode, Moving Violation.
  • You can see what appear to be set lights reflected in Ponch's and Getraer's sunglasses right before the helicopter lands.
  • Ponch jumps at the chance to go up in the chopper. During Season 2, ep. 7 "High Flyer", he doesn't like flying.
  • Ponch is sitting in the pilot seat of Helicopter 5...but he's not the pilot.
  • Either the helicopter has something wrong with it or the inside sound effect is looped over and over.
  • After Jon pulls over and radios Ponch in the helicopter, when they go to the two-shot of the pilot and Ponch you can briefly see in the glass of the helicopter (lower left of frame), the reflection of a person with his arm raised across his forehead. The person has something around shiny around his wrist. Apparently, they are on the ground.
  • Again in the air, once chopper 5 pans around to look in the reservoir you will see a man in a white t-shirt refected in the windshield of the chopper. The man has his arms wide open. (thus being a reflection from a man on the ground).
  • After Ponch returns the lost boy to his mother, he tells Jon that he's going to tell the kids at Poly High about the time he saved the driver from the burning gas truck or when he delivered twins. Those events haven't happened yet. The burning gas truck is in "Green Thumb Burglar". They deliver their first baby in "One Two Many". However, it's possible these are events that took place outside of an episode.
  • Right when Ponch says, "Apparently the suspects have made a U Turn in the tunnel", you can see a persons reflection in the windshield of chopper 5 again. Then again once the suspects are taken into custody.

Buy this episode

Preceded by:
"Moving Violation"
Career Day
Followed by:
"Baby Food"