Police Helicopter Pilot

Helicopter Aviation & Beyond:

We take you inside the cockpit of law enforcement helicopters around the world while sharing knowledge and insight on how to become a police or sheriff helicopter pilot.

Filtering by Tag: Sheriff

California, Orange County Sheriff's Department Air Support Bureau

Orange County Sheriff Helicopter on the ASTREA ramp, Gillespie Field Ca. on a cross country training flight.The Orange County Sheriff's Department's Air Support Unit flies out of the John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana California, so it is appropriate that their two Eurocopter AS 350 helicopters go by the call signs "Duke I" and "Duke II" while on patrol.

The unit began operations in 1985 with two MD500E helicopters but eventually transitioned to the MD600N (no tail rotor) helicopters in 1998.  The MD600N was a faster and much quieter helicopter than the 500E.  The Orange County Sheriff's Department was the first police agency in the country to place the MD600N into service as a police patrol helicopter.  In 2005 the unit began their transition to the helicopters they operate today, two American Eurocopter AS 350B2 (Astar) helicopters.  

The Aviation Support Unit is currently staffed with one Sergeant and eight Deputy Sheriff II's. All of which are are very experienced law enforcement officers with a wide range of aviation and law enforcement experience. The average Unit member is 46 years old and has 22 years of law enforcement experience. Each pilot holds a FAA Airline Transport Pilot or a Commercial Pilot's Certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating and has an average flight time in excess of 7,000 hours.

Ca.- Kern County Sheriff's Dept. Air Support Unit

Located in the southern Central Valley of California the Kern County Air Support Unit boast approximately 13 sworn members and operate a total of 6 aircraft;  Two MD500E Helicopters, two Bell OH58 Helicopters, and two Cessna fixed wing aircraft, a Cessna 210 and a Cessna 206. 

In 2008 Kern Co. Sheriff's took delivery of a Bell Huey II helicopter from Bell Helicopters.  According to a Bell Helicopter press release Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood was quoted as saying; 

"This Huey II helicopter will increase our capability to transport law enforcement personnel (SWAT), conduct search and rescue operations and aid in environmental disaster operations across the wide spectrum of terrain found in the county."

Based at Meadows Field, in the county seat of Bakersfield Ca., the Kern Co. Sheriff's Air Support Unit supports the men and woman on patrol throughout Kern Co. 7- days a week. 

Kern Co. Sheriff MD500E patrol helicopter. photo courtesy Alan Radecki Wikimedia.


Arizona, Pima County Sheriff's Tactical Air Support Unit

Pima County Sheriff Helio Courier outfitted with a turboprop engine and a Star Saffire Flir Camera.The Pima County Sheriff's Department has adopted an innovative approach to airborne law enforcement.  When tasked to come up with an airborne patrol platform without the traditional costs of a helicopter, members of the department identified the fixed wing HT 295 Helio-Courier as an acceptable alternative to the helicopter.  With slow flight capabilities in the high 20s, plenty of useable load, and the ability to mount heat sensing cameras to hard points under the wing, they discovered that they could perform about 80% of all missions that traditional police helicopters were called on to perform.  But by using the fixed wing platform they were able to provide patrol and surveillance support at a fraction of the cost.

Yes fixed wing aircraft have long been used in airborne law enforcement applications, however, the vast majority are used as transport, or strictly surveillance from high altitudes.  Not the direct patrol support that has been relegated to the helicopter for the past 40 years. 

The Pima County Sheriff's Office operates 5 aircraft to include;  1-Cessna 210, 1-Cessna 310, 2- HT-420 patrol & surveillance airplanes, and 1- MD 530FF helicopter. The unit is staffed with 6 pilots (all of whom possess commercial and instrument fixed wing ratings), and several Tactical Flight Officers. 

Pima County S.O. fixed wing and MD530F helicopter.

Arizona, Maricopa County Sheriff's Air Support Unit

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office operates a mix of fixed wing airplanes and helicopters for a total 6 aircraft.  These aircraft include 1- Bell 407, 2- Bell OH-58 helicopters, 1- Cessna 206 airplane, 1- Piper PA-31 airplane, and 1- Schweizer 269 helicopter.

The Aviation Support Unit is based out of Central Arizona Project Hanger in Pheonix Arizona.  According to the website www.mcso.org the air support unit "provides airborne law enforcement support to uniformed patrol, Lake Patrol, Search and Rescue operations, narcotics enforcement, extraditions and SWAT operations."

Maricopa County is home to "America's Toughest Sheriff", Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Alabama, Morgan County Sheriff's Air Patrol

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office headquartered in Decatur Al, operates a single Bell OH58 Helicopter primarily flown by Chief Pilot Danny McDaniel. 

According to the Morgan County Sheriff website, the helicopter is used for a variety of missions including surveillance, marijuana eradication, missing person searches and criminal investigations.  The helicopter is equipped with both a Night Sun and FLIR camera along with the capabilities of recording anything viewed on the camera. 

Alabama, Limestone County Sheriff's Air Support Unit

The Limestone County Alabama Sheriff's Office operates a single Bell OH58 government surplus helicopter primarily flown by Deputy Pilot Dean Murray. 

The helicopter was obtained at no cost to the taxpayers on Limestone County, and is at least partially funded by an annual Sheriff's Rodeo. 

The helicopter is primarily used for search and rescue and other specialized missions. 

You can view photos of the Limestone Co. Sheriff's Helicopter on the Sheriff's website.  Look for their helicopter under "Special Response Services- Air Support & Rescue."

Alabama, Jefferson County Sheriff's Aviation Unit

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, headquartered in Birmingham Alabama, operates two Bell OH58 helicopters.  The unit was first established on November 19th 2003 by Sheriff Mike Hale.  At the time Jefferson County was one of the largest metropolitan areas in the Country without aerial law enforcement capabilities.

In July of 2004 The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office took possession of two non flyable Bell OH58 helicopters from Fort Rucker through the Department Of Defense 1033 excess property to law enforcement agencies program. 

In 2005 the unit received $210,000 from the Department of Homeland Security and in early 2006 they received a $100,000 Technology Grant to upgrade the helicopter(s).  On May 3rd 3006 Pemco Aeroplex Inc. based at Birmingham International Airport, delivered "Star 1" to the department after a full external restoration. 

The primary mission of the Jefferson County Air Support Unit is to;

"Enhance county wide officer and public safety by providing effective aerial support to Jefferson County Law Enforcement Agencies and to enhance the effectiveness of federal, state, and local law enforcement units by providing airborne surveillance, drug eradication, observation and reporting of criminal activity."

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Aviation Unit is supported by approximately 25 Deputy Sheriff Reserve Volunteers.