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.

Sacramento Sheriff's Aviation Unit:

EC120 Sheriff helicopter (450 x 265).jpg

Sacramento Sheriff's EC120 on patrol

The following information was kindly provided by member(s) of the Sacramento Sheriff's Air Unit.  It is for informational purposes only and is subject to change.  This page does not represent official policies or positions of the Sacramento Sheriff's Department.

To be eligible for selection as a new Tactical Flight Officer in the Sacramento Sheriff's Aviation Unit you must be a sworn member of the department with a minimum of 2 years continuous patrol experience on the Sacramento Sheriff's Office, (patrol time on other departments does not count.) 

However, the actual length of service for new TFO's who are selected to the unit is somewhere between 3 and 9 years on the department, which may include some jail time, with the average length of service being about 6 years.

No aviation ratings are required in order to be selected into the unit, but new TFO's must be able to obtain a class 2 medical certificate, (Class 2 is the medical required to be a commercial pilot, many agencies require new TFO's to get a class 2 medical so they know they will qualify medically when it comes time for flight training.)

According to one member of the unit "We are looking for good street cops, who can multi-task and take command. We also like self motivated, go-getter type guys/gals. These guys usually make good TFOs. "

During initial training newly assigned TFO’s receive 10 hours of flight instruction from unit CFI’s. This is to give them a minimum level of proficiency to safely land the helicopter in an emergency such as the pilot being incapacitated. When it is time for a TFO to begin pilot training they are normally sent out to a flight school up through private pilot after which they return to their unit for the commercial portion of their flight training. Sacramento Sheriff pilots must have a commercial rotorcraft rating, class 2 medical, and pass the in-house mission training program. From a 10+ hr time TFO to a line pilot, the pilot usually has 300-500 hours of pilot time before he is on his own.

The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department also maintains a fixed wing program for more specialized missions. Fixed wing pilots must have a commercial & instrument rating, class 2 medical, and also pass a mission training class. Two years patrol in Sacramento County are required for this position as well. Most of the time, they are also qualified as TFOs in the helicopter. Some are both rotor and fixed wing rated.

Visit the Sacramento Sheriff's Air unit at;    www.airopscops.com

Sacramento Sheriff helicopter (450 x 300).jpg

Below is a look inside the cockpit of a Sacramento Sheriff Helicopter:

(photos  courtesy of Deputy G. Beamer)