Police Helicopter Pilot

Helicopter Aviation & Beyond:

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Seal Teams, Helicopters, And A Late Night Call

Since the death of Osama Bin Laden and the heroic rise of Seal Team 6 to well deserved superstar status, there has been a whole new interest in the U.S. Navy Seals and even super secret helicopters for that matter.  Who the hell knew we had super secret stealth helicopters anyway?  I like to think that our government has a whole host of super secret stealthy weapons that are about 10 to 20 years ahead of where you and I think we are, in the technological and aerospace realms. 

But all of this buzz did remind me of a call my partner and I received one night while on patrol.  Now any true Seal Team fan knows that at least initial Seal Team training occurs right here in San Diego County at the Navy Seal Training facility on Coronado Island.  For those of you not familiar with San Diego, Coronado Island is actually connected to the mainland by a long strand of earth known as the silver Strand, and by the Coronado Bay Bridge. 

Also in recent times alien smuggling has taken more and more to the ocean here in the south western corner of the U.S., whereas in the past the majority of smuggling routes were over land.  It is not uncommon these days for our deputies in Encinitas or Solana Beach to get a call of a boat that just beached on the shore line, with 30-40 undocumented immigrants running through the city's upscale neighborhoods at 4:00 in the morning.  Not a tactic that really works well by the way.

On this cool winter night Cornonado PD called and asked if we could respond to their city and check a report of a suspicious boat somewhere off shore of the Silver Strand.  We advised that we would be en-route to check the area.

Since we don't fly IFR equipped or rated helicopters, flying out over the darkened ocean at night time is a sure fire way to crash and die.  Our tactic is to fly up and down the coast while searching the ocean waters as far out as possible with our FLIR, heat sensing camera. 

On this night I was working the TFO side of the helicopter so my pilot fired up the ship, I fired up the FLIR and we were off to search out potential alien smuggling boats off of San Diego's coast.  We arrived on scene at the north end of the Silver Strand, and at the south end of the City of Coronado in the general area where the reports had come in.  My FLIR was producing a beautiful black and white, crystal clear picture of the coast line below us. 

A search of ocean waters just off shore revealed nothing, but a quick glance at the U.S. Navy Seal training facility revealed a flurry of night time activity involving the use of boats, momentarily beached on the sand.  Mystery solved.  We quickly concluded that instead of undocumented "international travelers" is was America's future elite commandos becoming one with the sea. 

Thanks guys for all you do and to borrow a line from a now retired ASTREA pilot (Danno) "I love your show!"