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.

Yet Another Attack On A Police Helicopter In the U.K.

File photo of an EC 135 Police Helicopter in the U.K., photo courtesy Wikimedia.org Arpingstone.On Friday evening around 10:30 pm local time a group of three men wearing balaclavas (face masks) stormed a Mereyside Police helicopter parked at R.A.F. Base Woodvale.  The vandals smashed a window on the helicopter, poured fuel inside and attempted to torch it before being interrupted by officers on the base.

This is the third such attack on a police helicopter in the U.K. in about as many months. 

The incident Friday sparked an intense high speed 16 mile chase, that ended with one police car in flames and three suspects in custody.  A second police helicopter from another police force assisted in the search for the suspects, the pursuit, and ultimately the arrest. 

The Mereyside Police helicopter that was attacked is an EC 135 valued at approximately 2.9 million Euros.  The Euro Copter 135 is by far the most popular police helicopter in the U.K. 

Shortly after the incident a Mitsubishi Shogun ,which was suspected of being involved, was found in flames.  At about the same time a silver Audi A4 was observed leaving the vicinity at a high rate of speed.  Police gave chase and followed the car from the Southport area to the Liverpool City Center where the vehicle was abandoned in the Birkenhead Tunnel.  Subsequently a black Audi A8 sped out of the opposite side of the tunnel where upon the pursuit continued.

The black Audi eventually collided with a police vehicle on upper Hampton St., cause the police vehicle to burst into flames.  The officer was able to escape the burning vehicle with minor injuries.  Three male suspects, ages 24, 25 and 26 were arrested and booked into jail. 

Police Superintendent Jonathan Roy reassured the public that "highly effective air support was maintained throughout the operation."  It was only a few weeks ago that another police helicopter was grounded due to a fake bomb, while robbers used their own helicopter to carry out the heist of a money depot.

Mereyside Police is the territorial police force in North West England serving a population of approximately 1.5 million people. 

So far police have not speculated on a motive for the attack but vow to conduct a far reaching investigation that leaves no stone unturned. 

Sources:  Champion News, The Southport Visiter, The Liverpool Daily Post, Wikipedia.org.

Border Patrol Pilots Express Concern About MD600N Helicopter

BP MD600N, Gillespie Field, D. Weldon photo.PHP.com has learned that some Border Patrol pilots are expressing their concern about the apparent poor auto-rotational capabilities of the MD600N (no tail rotor) helicopter.  These concerns may very well have proven out this week when a Dept. of Homeland Security (BP) helicopter, being operated by a factory CFI, suffered a hard landing while conducting a simulated engine out auto-rotation.  The incident occurred on Monday the 12th,on runway 17/35 at Gillespie Field in El Cajon Ca, which just happens to be a stones throw from the San Diego Sheriff's ASTREA ramp.  The only other occupant of the helicopter at the time was the Border Patrol's Chief Pilot for the San Diego area.  No injuries were reported. 

The entire incident was caught on tape by other BP pilots who were filming the autos from the ground.  Speculation is that the filming was related to the BP pilots concern that the MD600 could not be successfully "auto'ed" in the event of an engine out.  At least at the altitudes, air speed, and weight at which most of their missions are performed.  It is likely these concerns were heightened after an engine out and a crash landing in the surf of another BP MD600N in February of this year.  In that incident the helicopter was destroyed and all three occupants suffered injuries.

For the record this writer has received auto-rotational training from this same CFI and can attest to his professionalism, outstanding skill level, and expert knowledge of MD Helicopters.  Which leaves one really wondering about the capabilities of this helicopter when the engine quits.

I have spoke many times on this site about the safety, ruggedness, and crash worthiness of the MD500 series helicopters.  Incidents like this do not change my confidence level in the MD500. 

The lingering question is; What is it about the MD600N that causes it to perform poorly during auto-rotation.  Well that would probably be a great question for an aeronautical engineer, and one that I do not have the answer to.  I do know that every helicopter has it's own auto-rotational characteristics and some are much better than others.  I hear that the R44 auto's great, but the R22 not so much.  The R22 looks like a scaled down version of the R44, so all things being equal it would seem that the R22 would auto just as nicely as the R44.  But that is simply not the case.  As helicopter pilots we are all familiar with the terms "high inertia" rotor systems and "low inertia" rotor systems.  Apparently the MD600N falls into the later category. 

Perhaps Monday's incident will pay dividends for the next BP pilot who happens to be at the controls when the engine quits.  Hopefully he or she will be strapped into something other than and MD600N.

Louisiana State Police Bring Air Support Back to Northern La.

Louisiana State Police Bell 430s, courtesy L.S.P.On Friday Sept. 25th Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson announced the return of the state police air support unit to northern Louisiana.  State Police will be basing one Bell Oh-58 police helicopter, and 1- Cessna 172 fixed wing aircraft out of the Ruston Regional Airport.

It has been 24 years since LSP had an air unit based out of this region.  If a local sheriff or police department was in need of air support during this time period, they would normally have to wait for a state police helicopter to respond from Alexandria LA., normally a 30-45 minute wait. 

The move back was made possible by a cooperative agreement between the Northern Louisiana Legislative Delegation and trucking magnate James Davison.  Davison will be offering free hangar space to the new unit at the Ruston Airport. 

The Louisiana State Police operate approximately 16 aircraft in total to include;  2 Bell 430 turbine helicopters (pictured above), 1- Bell 206L4 (Long Ranger), 1-Bell 206L3 turbine helicopter, 3- Bell OH-58 helicopters (military version of the 206), and 8- Cessna fixed wing aircraft which includes 172s, 182, and the 310.

In a time when many agencies are cutting back on their air support units it is nice to see an agency take steps to improve coverage.  Kudos to the Louisiana State Police, politicians and the citizens that made the move possible. 

Brazen Helicopter Heist in Stockholm Nets Millions

Stockholm Sweden is no stranger to bank robberies and heists.  After all it brought us the condition known as the "Stockholm Syndrome" wherein a hostage bonds with and then begins to protect their hostage taker.  But the pre-dawn heist yesterday from a G4S cash depot sets a new standard for thinking outside the box, in regards to planning and carrying out a bank heist.

Stockholm police arrived on scene to hear and see a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, with all of it's position and anti-collision lights turned off, in tight orbits over the cash depot building.  Police were not equipped to go up against the potentially heavily armed robbers who had smashed and exploded thier way into the building, after being lowered onto the roof by the helicopter.  Police were instead forced to maintain a perimeter on the building until a special police commando unit arrived on scene.  At that time the robbers, along with the stolen loot, were apparently hoisted back aboard the helicopter and flew away.

Swedish Police Helicopter, EC 135, wikimedia.comMeanwhile the Stockholm Police helicopter was grounded due to a strategically placed fake bomb, next to their aircraft.  There would be no Hollywood style helicopter vs. helicopter chase in the skies over the Swedish country side on this day.

The helicopter, which turned out to be stolen, was later discovered near a lake about 15 miles north of the city.  No arrest have been made but a large cash reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible has already been made.

Reports are that as much as $150 million could have been stored in the cash depot at the time of the heist.  The exact amount of money taken during the heist is still unknown at this time.  A million dollar reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

While such a robbery has all the earmarks of a great Hollywood movie, along with a touch of genius, let's try to remember that a thief is a thief.  They take what does not belong to them, but what someone else has worked hard for.  Reservations are currently being prepared for the above thieves at a quaint prison somewhere in Sweden!

Helicopter Crash on Guejito Ranch Promts Multi-Agency Response

R44 4 seat helicopter, photo courtesy of Cal-Fire Valley Center.At around 1430 hours on Sunday September 20th, an emergency call went out that a helicopter had crashed on the Guejito Ranch in northern San Diego County.  The two occupants of the R44 piston powered 4 seat helicopter, survived the crash and used a cell phone to call for help.  Initial reports were that both occupants sustained injuries and needed assistance.

A San Diego Sheriff's patrol helicopter crewed by Pilot S. Rea and TFO G. Kneeshaw arrived on scene and began a search for the downed aircraft.  The helicopter was subsequently located in an remote area inaccessible to vehicles. 

Deputy Kneeshaw embarked on foot to contact and assist the injured occupants while Deputy Rea got back into the air to direct in the responding Cal-Fire and Sheriff's patrol units. 

Due to the remote location it was quickly determined that both victims would need to be evacuated by way of a hoist rescue ship.  A San Diego Sheriff's Fire/Rescue helicopter piloted by Deputy T. Weber, with an all Cal-Fire hoist crew, responded along with two Mercy Air medical helicopters.  Basket lifts were conducted on both patients by the crew of Copter 10, before they were handed off to Mercy Air for the medical transport.  Both patients are expected to fully recover from their injuries.

Initial information at the scene indicated that the helicopter may have been in a low orbit when the engine lost power and the helicopter suffered a hard landing.  The helicopter did suffer significant damage to include the tail boom becoming separated from the aircraft.  Unconfirmed reports are that the helicotper was new, with only 130 hours of total flying time.  According to the Robinson Helicopter website a new R44 Raven II helicopter retails for $404,000.

PHP staff spoke to the manager of Guejito Ranch, a working cattle ranch and the largest of the original Spanish Land Grants still in existence in California today.  The ranch manager confirmed that this is approximately the 6th air crash on the ranch in the past 2 years.  He further confirmed that his level of frustration with air crashes and low flying helicopters buzzing cattle is at an all time high.  

Low flying helicopter pilots would be smart to avoid the Guejito Ranch as a training area.  

Police Helicopter Pilot.com wishes a speedy recovery to the injured flyers. 

Night Helicopter Photo Separates The Pros from the Amateurs

MD500 night shot, Dan Megna photo.This photo taken by retired deputy/pilot Dan Megna has been setting on my computer for many months just waiting for the right story or article to couple it with.  Tired of waiting, I finally decided that the photo is just too nice to sit around in an electronic folder.  So here it is, with permission of the owner of course.

The location is the San Marcos Sheriff's Station heli-pad at dusk.  Your host is in the pilot's seat with the NVG friendly green lip light illuminated.  As the picture attest, this was no "point and shoot" photo but rather a carefully choreographed dance between lighting and spinning rotors.  It is a far cry from the many amateur photos on this site (taken by yours truly) that I am sure are capable of making most professional photographers cringe.  The photo was taken in support of a helicopter magazine article written by Dan.  

See more of Dan's work at www.danmegna.com

Also check out the photo gallery for a larger version of the same photo.

Shine Laser at Aircraft Go To Federal Prison!

I don't seem to recall exactly when hand held lasers became both cheap and popular, but since that time I would guess that there are few law enforcement helicopter crews in the country (probably throughout the world) who have not been hit with a laser at least once.  I have been in the cockpit at least three occasions when a laser beam began bouncing off of the windscreen, instrument panel, etc. 

There are multiple reasons why shining a laser (even a flashlight) at an aircraft is prohibited by both state and federal law, beginning with potential damage to the eye that a laser can cause.  Regardless, it seems that there are still plenty of people who are willing to direct their hand held laser or flashlight at an airliner or even a police helicopter with little thought that they really, really, might end up in prison.

Enter 30 year old Baltazar Valladares of Roseville Ca., near Sacramento, who was just sentenced to 37 months in Federal prison this week for targeting both a South West Airline flight coming into Sacramento International Airport, and a short time later hitting the Sacramento Sheriff's Helicopter with the same laser. 

Apparently the crew of the Sacramento Sheriff's helicopter was a little sharper than what Valladares expected as they quickly pinpointed the laser as coming from his residence.  It was not long before Roseville Police were knocking on his door, and subsequently conducting a legal search of his residence.  The laser was located in two separate pieces, hidden in two separate locations within the residence. 

The investigation into the incident was continued by the FBI as well as Roseville Police Dept., and even the Federal Air Marshals Service since it involved a passenger airliner.  The end result was the sentencing announced this week by U.S. Attorney Lawrence G. Brown.  Mr. Valladares will spend 37 months in Federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  I am sure that Valladares' prior criminal record did not do him any favors in avoiding a federal prison sentence.

Most police helicoper crews are now operating on night vision goggles.  Which means that shining a flashlight at a law enforcement helicopter is just as disruptive as a laser, considering the goggles are magnifying the light somewhere around 30,000 times.  Normally a stern warning over the P.A. of their pending felony arrest is enough to stop the behavior, but it distracts the crew and takes important time away from the police mission which very often involves searching for a violent fleeing felon. Unfortunately crime is inconvenient to everyone.

Let's hope that someday people will actually start to make the connection in their brain;  "Shine a laser or light at an aircraft, EXPECT to go to jail."

Chicago Police Department's Helicopter Task Force Continues to Prove Itself With Latest FLIR Find!

Chicago Police Dept.'s Bell Jet Ranger HelicopterOn Friday September 4th, just after midnight the Chicago Police Helicopter and crew continued to prove it's worth by locating a murder suspect hiding in the bushes, using the onboard thermal imaging device known as the FLIR. 

At about 1205 am police responded to a double stabbing on the city's south side.  An apparent dispute over money during a late night card game resulted in a 37 year old woman and her 22 year old son being stabbed.  The woman suffered stab wounds to the neck and later died of her injuries at a nearby hospital.  The son was expected to survive his injuries.

A helicopter and 3 man crew from CPD's Helicopter Task Force responded and began a FLIR search of the surrounding area. With Officer B. Raniere at the helicopter controls, Officer T. Bansley on the radios, and Officer E. Graney operating the FLIR thermal imager, the crew located then directed ground units to a subject who appeared to be hiding in bushes in the 7600 block of S. Paulina.  A 44 year old man, believed to be the stabber, was found hiding and taken into custody. Excellent work by both air and ground units!

For several decades Chicago was the only city out of "the largest 10 cities in America" who did not own or operate a single law enforcement helicopter.

The Chicago Police Department did in fact operate 2 helicopters during the 1970s but disbanded the unit in 1979 due to budgetary reasons. 

Chicago PD's helicopter unit was re-constituted in January of 2006 with the addition of a single Bell Jet Long Ranger helicopter.  By 2007 the helicopter underwent significant upgrades with the addition of a moving map system for navigating the city streets, and the Forward Looking Infrared camera system.  The department soon added a second helicopter, another Bell Jet Ranger which is outfitted with the same hi-tech equipment but even includes an Exploranium Gamma Radiation Detector for uses such as detecting dirty bombs. 

Shortly after the first high-tech upgrade the Chicago Police Helicopter Task Force utilized the new equipment to track down and help arrest a man wanted in the shooting of a Markham police officer, after the suspect had fled into a wooded area at night time.  During the same weekend, the same helicopter tracked a man who fled from a drug and weapons raid in Glenwood Ill, resulting in his arrest. 

Again, excellent work by the Chicago Police Helicopter Task Force!

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on August 4th CBP Helicopter Crash

File photo of Miami Dade Police EC AS350B3, (not the one involved in the crash).On Tuesday August 4th at 1630 hours a Department of Homeland Security, Customs & Border Protection helicopter (similar to the one pictured above) crash landed at Herlong Airport in Jacksonville Florida causing substantial damage to the aircraft but only minor injuries to one of the occupants.

The helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350B3, and crew were on a training flight and were practicing hydraulics off approaches to a hover- when the helicopter contacted the ground, spun and rolled over onto it's side according to the NTSB's preliminary report.  The Certified Flight Instructor suffered minor injuries while the commercial pilot was not injured. 

The helicopter suffered substantial damage to the fuselage, tail rotor and main rotor system. 

New Photos Added to The PHP Picture Gallery

Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Dept. Enstrom 480B light turbine helicopter. Be sure to check out the picture gallery to see the helicopters that were on display at this years Airborne Law Enforcement Association's annual conference in Savanna Ga.  Photos are still being added but look for "Savanna ALEA" sets #1 & #2.  Just click on thumbnails for full size photo.

Topeka Police Helicopter Unit- Victim of Budget Cuts

It may be an understatement to say that the Topeka Police Department Helicopter unit has been the most hotly debated law enforcement aviation unit in the country, at least for the past 2 years or so.  While the Topeka Police Chief has been a staunch supporter of the program, a significant portion of the community has made their distaste for the police helicopter unit well known.

The Topeka Air Support unit has had a number of setbacks over the 38 years it has been in existence.  Just 3 years after it's start in 1971, Officer Marcus Hodd was killed in the crash of his patrol helicopter, a Hughes 269C (Schweizer 300) on November 1st 1974.  The NTSB ruled that the crash was the result of an auto-rotation, with a high flare, and low rotor rpm.  The report stated that reason for the emergency landing was not determined. 

The Topeka Police Department continued to operate Hughes 269/Schweizer 300 helicopters for the next several decades.  However, on June 13th 2000 tragedy struck again when two Topeka police officers were fatally injured in the crash of their Schweizer 300 helicopter.

The 2000 crash was very likely the beginning of the end of the Topeka PD Air Support Unit.  While it is not the purpose of this website or this writer to critique other aviation units, the 2000 Topeka PD helicopter crash opened wide the doors of public scrutiny of the Topeka Police Air Support Unit.

Pilot Jeff Howey (37) and TFO Charles Bohlender (33) were assisting ground units on a night time, commercial burglary alarm at a Lowes home improvement store, when things turned deadly.  According to ground units and witnesses the helicopter was in a tight right orbit over the store, when it suddenly began spinning, then nose dived into the ground and burst into flames.  Both the pilot and TFO were killed on impact.

When questioned by NTSB investigators the Topeka PD's chief pilot stated that the Pilot In Command would have flown at 500' AGL while en-route to the call, but then would have descended to 200' and 50 knots over the incident in order to conduct the FLIR search.  Now while that combination of altitude and airspeed -while working a police call, at night time, is enough to make most helicopter pilots cringe, it was further determined that the PIC had a grand total of 148.9 hours in helicopters.  The TFO was non rated.  Sadly the results speak for themselves. 

The NTSB determined that the cause of the crash was "loss of tail rotor effectiveness" due to tight right turns with low forward airspeed, and probable loss of effective translational lift resulting in low rotor rpm.  The NTSB also cited the pilot's overall inexperience in helicopters as a contributing factor. 

There is little doubt that this incident invited intense public scrutiny of the Topeka Air Support Unit, and gave ammunition to it's detractors who would like to see the air unit's budget spent elsewhere.

However, the emergency landing & crash of Topeka's R-44 patrol helicopter, caught on surveillance video at Washburn University on the evening of April 5th 2008, was likely the nail in the coffin.  The video of the crash landing made national news and only intensified the debate of the Topeka Helicopter program, among the citizens of Topeka Ks.  The pilot in command was attempting to make a precautionary landing after experiencing high engine rpm and a low rotor rpm warning light.  During the precautionary landing in the parking lot of Washburn University, the helicopters main rotor struck a light pole, causing the helicopter to come to rest on it's side, with damage. 

The NTSB determined the cause of this incident to be a malfunctioning magneto which may have sent incorrect signals to the governor, this producing the high engine rpm and the low rotor rpm warning.  Contact with the light pole was seen as a contributing factor. 

The end came during the second and final hour of a budget session at city hall when the mayor proposed to remove the final $520,000 in funding for the program, and a city council member proposed to remove funding for the city's helicopter mechanic position.  Topeka's police chief expressed shock at the move and questioned whether political motivations were involved. 

While policehelicopterpilot.com is sad to see any law enforcement helicopter program disbanded, we do not presume to know what is best for the citizens of Topeka Ks. 

Three Officers Injured in LAPD Helicopter Crash Landing

file photo of LAPD Eurocopter AS350, Glen Grossman photo.Three LAPD officers suffered minor to moderate injuries Thursday afternoon while practicing "power off" auto-rotations at an airfield in Lancaster Ca. according to news reports and the FAA. 

The pilot-officers were training at the General William J. Fox Airfield 40 miles northeast of downtown LA when the incident occurred. 

According to one Los Angeles County fire official, at least one officer suffered moderate injures while two suffered minor injuries and all were transported.  The helicopter also suffered damage during the "hard" landing. 

An auto-rotation is an emergency procedure that allows helicopters to land safely in the event of complete engine failure.  It is the only thing that stands between life and death, in single engine helicopters when the engine fails.  It works every time when performed correctly.  But it also takes a significant amount of practice become proficient, and unfortunately training accidents sometimes occur when this skill is being transferred from the instructor to the student. 

News photos of the helicopter confirm it was a Eurocopter AS350, one of twelve operated by the department.  The photo also confirms that the helicopter suffered significant damage.

LAPD's air unit is considered the largest municipal police helicopter unit in the world, (South Africa boast a larger fleet but it is not considered municipal) operating a total of 17 helicopters.  Most are flown from LAPD's rooftop heliport in downtown LA.

PHP.com staff wishes a speedy recovery to the officers.

ALEA's 39th Annual Conference & Exposition, The Perfect Mix of Old City Charm & High Tech Helicopters

downtown Savanna Ga., looking across the river from Convention Center.Savanna Ga and the Savanna-Chatham Metro Police Department were host to the Airborne Law Enforcement Association's Annual Conference and Expo this year, which took place July 23rd thru 25th.

The chance to enjoy some southern food & hospitality, mixed with the charm of America's first planned city and the latest in law enforcement helicopter aviation was all I needed to exchange the west coast for the east coast, if only for a few days. 

The economy definitely reared it's ugly head as I overheard one exhibitor speaking about the number of individual door passes which had been assigned.  It seems the number of people registered as exhibitors out numbered the people registered as attendees, by almost a hundred.  On a personal note, my attendance did not involve the expenditure of any county funds.  While the desire to learn and improve ones self is admirable, this trip would not find me sitting in any classrooms. 

No, my goal was to hit the floor of the exposition hall and stick my head and nose into as many cockpits as possible, while at the same time exchanging information and ideas with other law enforcement air crews from across the country.  I was  not to be dissapointed.  Here are just a few of the highlights in my humble, low time, pilot opinion.

Osceola County Sheriff's Dept.'s Re-Furbished OH-58 Helicopter:

Now you may wander how I can consider a re-furbished OH-58 as one of the highlights of the show when there are plenty of high-tech, fresh off the assembly lines, rotor-craft in the same room.  The answer is simple.  It's nice to see someone get it right. 

You see in law enforcement aviation the tactical flight officer (TFO) is the star of the show.  The goal of the entire helicopter package, the pilot, all of the electronics, etc., is to put the TFO in the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment to assist the officers on the ground and hopefully get the bad guy in custody.  But a look into the cockpit of many L.E. helicopters around the country would cause you to scratch you head and wander if the TFO was just an after thought.  No so with this helicopter. 

Osceola Sheriff's Dept's re-furbished OH-58 helicopter

One look at the exterior of this aircraft and you begin to think that Bell Helicopter must have re-started their Bell Jet Ranger production lines.  From a strictly visual perspective this helicopter holds it's own with every helicopter in the building.  But let's be honest, fancy paint doesn't help the FTO do his job.  One look in the cockpit and you get the idea that someone at the Osceola Sheriff's Department had their priorities straight when this job was bid out.

cockpit of Osceola Sheriff's OH-58, TFO monitor If you are a pilot your eyes might first be drawn to the new glass panel situated in front of the pilot's seat.  But if you are a TFO who has spent hours with your head down looking into a flir monitor, then you will no doubt take notice of the gargantuan monitor situated on the panel directly in front of the TFO.  This is without a doubt the largest monitor I have ever seen in any law enforcement helicopter.  I think the friendly Osceola Deputy Sheriff indicated that it was a 15" monitor.  Whatever the numbers are, it is almost twice the size of many monitors currently mounted in many police helicopters around the country.       

My amateur photo does not do this cockpit justice.  But when you start comparing the size of the FLIR/moving map monitor with other parts of the panel, you start getting the idea that it is huge, (more photos will be posted soon in a photo gallery.)

Osceola County is situated in central Florida with Kissimmee being the county seat.  The Osceola County Sheriff's Department operates a total of 3- Bell Oh-58s, along with 1- Cessna 206 and 1- Beech BE58 aircraft.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS- Highway Patrol) claims most advanced light single:

As I roamed around the exhibit hall, from helicopter to helicopter to be exact, I came across the following announcement from Texas DPS and Metro Aviation.

Texas DPS Eurocopter AS350

Metro Aviation of Shreveport Louisiana, and Texas DPS is laying claim to having outfitted the "most technologically advanced, light single engine, law enforcement helicopter in the world."  While I don't have a long list of advanced features to recite, I did notice an integrated satellite phone which the crew can no doubt access via their headsets/helmets, and I noted the additional moving map display near the pilot's right knee.  Clearly features that would enhance the mission capabilities of most law enforcement helicopters. 

Texas DPS AS350 integrated sat. phone

This small moving map screen (pictured below) provided by Aero Computers is positioned to the lower right of the panel, near the pilots knee.  Very nice!

Texas DPS AS350  

Texas DPS operates 9- Eurocopter AS350s and 5- Cessna 206 fixed wing aircraft. 

Houston Police Department takes delivery of new MD500E helicopter:

Coming from an agency myself that flies MD500s, any new MD500 helicopter is worth spending a little time with.  MD Helicopters had two new aircraft on display, one of which was being delivered to the Houston PD Air Support Division immediately after it's time spent on the floor of the expo hall. 

I was wrong however to presume that a couple of lucky Houston PD pilots would get the opportunity to fly the new ship from Savanna back to Houston.  Delivery of the ship by factory pilot(s) however must have been part of the purchase package.  Whatever the reason, it would have made for some excellent cross country time for some police pilots. 

ALEA President & Houston PD takes official delivery of new MD500E.

There was a delivery ceremony complete with champagne, wherein ALEA President Dan Schwarzbach (a Houston PD pilot) officially accepted the new helicopter from MD.  I am not sure what the snafu was, but there was a very un-happy Savanna Convention Center official, and a whole mess of champagne that had to be either drank quickly or poured out.  As a fellow pilot I did my best to help out with that situation. 

It seems that Houston PD has also seen the benefit of giving the pilot his or her own small moving map screen.  Note the pop up screen in front of the pilot, in the below photo.

Houston PD MD500 with pop up moving map screen for pilotThe new helicopter is outfitted not only with the latest in FLIR and moving map technology, but with new Meeker Mounts in which to secure the new equipment.

FLIR Ball & Night Sun secured to Meeker Mount.Houston Police operate a number of MD500 helicopters, this one is just the latest edition. 

Finally, I would be remiss to talk about Savanna and not mention Vic's On The River Restaurant and Bar.

Vic's On The River, Savanna Ga.

(The back of this building can be see in the top photo, below the dome, and above the river boat.)

Situated in an old cotton warehouse, the rooms in this building occupied by Vic's On The River, also served as military offices in the Civil War, as evidence of the battle map discovered drawn on the wall during renovation.  The map is now preserved in place, for all to see, by 21st century technology.  Vic's On The River had the perfect blend of old charm, incredible southern food, wine, music and ambience, and one of the nicest bar tenders we came across.  If you are ever in Savanna you would do well to stop in.      

Arizona DPS Helicopter First to Locate Fatal Bi Plane Crash

File photo of a Boeing Stearman (E-75), Juergen Lehle photo wikimedia.orgON Tuesday August 4th just after 3:00 pm a bright yellow vintage bi-plane with two souls on board departed Cottonwood Airport in the mountains south of Flagstaff Az.  Within a few minutes, according to at least one witness, the engine was sputtering and the airplane appeared to go down over a ridgeline.

On board the 1943 Boeng E-75 was Edward Remiro (32) and his father Robert Romero (72), residents of a local Navajo Indian Reservations.  One or both Remiro's also maintained a home in San Diego Ca. as well. 

The elder Remiro died on impact, leaving the younger Remiro with serious injuries to call for help on his cell phone.  An Arizona Department of Public Safety Helicopter was dispatched to search for the crash, as the Edward Remiro was unable to pinpoint his exact location.

The crew of the DPS helicopter discovered the crash site at around 3:42 pm in a clearing just south west of Stoneman Lake and rendered treatment to the victims until medical personnel arrived.  Edward Remiro was evacuated by medical helicopter and is expected to survive his injuries. 

The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

Excellent work by the DPS helicopter crew and all rescue personnel.    

As Summer Heats Up so Does Rescue Count

San Diego County's vast Anza Borrego Desert from around 20,000'

It may surprise you to know that not everyone holds a positive opinion of the many public helicopter operations around the country, and the missions that they carry out. Of course the positive support far outweighs the negative, but the detractors are out there.  Comments such as "personal flying clubs" and "just boys with expensive toys" come to mind. In addition, in these economic times more and more agencies, cities, and counties are forced to re-evaluate the use fullness of their aviation programs.

It is for these reasons that I offer some first hand accounts of recent helicopter rescues, in order that the concerned taxpayer or citizen can form a more accurate opinion.

In a two week period around the middle of July my partner and I picked up a total of 9 people (in three groups of three) from San Diego's back country. All 9 people were in various stages of heat exhaustion, with some likely on the verge of heat stroke. Now these were just the people that we picked up. This does not include the 2-3 hoist rescue operations that we were also involved in during the month of July, (we'll get to those.)  This is one crew, one helicopter, on one side of the shift.

So who or what determines that all of these people required an expensive helicopter to pluck them from their dire situation?  What happens when help doesn't come? And aren't these people responsible for putting themselves in the predicament they are in? All are good questions and all have good answers.

First, history and experience in our region more than justifies the use of an expensive helicopter to quickly remove these people from their hostile environment and reposition them to a place of safety. Many of these people are literally only a few hours from death, as most do not seek help until they are out of water and heat exhaustion is firmly upon them.

During this exact same two week period we are reminded of what happens when help does not come. My partner and I also responded with the coroner and recovered a body in the Corrizo Wash area of the Anza Borrego Desert.

So do these people bear some responsibility for putting themselves in these situations? Well sure they do, but that does not remedy their situation.  Additionally, these incidents do not start off as major blunders, but rather innocent miscalculations that can have very unfortunate results.  Consider the 9 individuals we picked up.  All nine appeared to be under the age of 25, six were young ladies, and all appeared to be otherwise upstanding citizens out in the back country to enjoy a brush with mother nature.  All are sons and daughters and grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters to people who love them.

RESCUE #1: The first three people in distress hails from the Vallecito Wash area of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park off of Highway S-2, parts of which are also known as The Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849.  How is that for sounding rugged and inhospitable?

These three young men chose a warm sunny day with temperatures topping out at 112 on the ground, to drive out to an area called the mud caves. This is an area of desert erosion with unique canyons and crevices that are popular among desert visitors. The small truck they are riding in becomes stuck in the sand, many miles off of the highway.  This causes them to set out across the desert on foot, with a limited water supply.

Within an hour their water is gone and they utilize that life saving device known as a cell phone to call for help. We get the call from our communication center, relayed by state parks.

My partner and I had just taken off from Gillespie field in our newest patrol ship, the Bell 407 which is capable of carrying a total of 7 people. Our fuel tank is full giving us about 3 hours of flight time. We turned toward the desert and immediately begin the information gathering process. How many people are we looking for? What is the best known location? What is their condition? How did the call come in and from whom? What ground contacts do we have and what are their call signs? What frequencies will we be working on?

Once all of these questions are answered the second stage of information gathering starts, which is just fine tuning everything we learned in the first stage.  

Even with all of this information it is still a vast desert and search area. Once on scene we repeatedly try to verify that we are in fact searching in the right area. After about 20 minutes of on scene searching my partner announces that he has them on his side of the aircraft.

There location was in a flat open area of the wash so we were able to land within a few feet of two of the subjects. The third one had gone one ahead to try to find a trail sign, but quickly made his way back to the helicopter. One of the subjects had removed his shirt and his shoes in an attempt to cool off, (and had been walking in the hot sand barefoot) a sure sign he was reaching a critical stage. All three were provided water and loaded in the back of the 407 for the flight to nearby Aqua Caliente County Airport and the air conditioned comfort of a State Park Rangers vehicle.

RESCUE #2: I believe it was a Monday morning a few days later when we received a call of three female hikers, overheated and in distress, on the trail of the Ramona side of Cedar Creek Falls (a popular hiking spot responsible for a good share of the rescues we do.)

Cedar Creek Falls is only about a 9-10 minute flight from our base vs. the 25 or so minutes it takes to get out to the Desert. We are very familiar with the falls and the trails that lead into them, so we can often narrow down the location of someone in distress fairly quickly.

In this case one of the ladies in the group had hiked out to the top of the trail, in order to get cell phone reception and report that others in the group were in trouble. After a short flight we began searching the trail that leads from the bottom of the falls, up to the edge of the Ramona Country Estates distance of about 2 miles. The first couple of passes did not reveal anyone on the trail. From experience we both knew that they eyes do not always focus on what you are searching for the first time, and it often takes repeated attempts, even when you know you are in the right area.

A few minutes later the three subjects were located just off the trail taking advantage of a small patch of shade offered up by a some scrub brush. We could see that at least one of the subjects was in worse condition than the other two, as she was laying on the ground with the two friends providing care.

 

Bell 407 helicopter, Rocky Laws photoOnce again we were flying the Bell 407. While it has plenty of power, and is a great people mover, it is not the choice rescue helicopter for mountainous terrain, (for a variety of reasons the MD500 series which makes up the rest of our fleet, is the preferred ship for confined or mountain terrain.) However, we were able to find a location flat enough to place the skids of the 407 across the trail, while keeping the main and tail rotor free of obstructions. Once again my partner set out to contact and evaluate the three ladies in need of assistance.

The report came back that at least one of the subjects had lost consciousness, which I relayed to the waiting fire department personnel. My partner then set about loading each of the three subjects into the back of the 407, a somewhat slow and deliberate process due to the uneven terrain and the spinning rotor blades, (sadly an Arizona Department of Public Safety Paramedic was killed earlier this year performing a very similar rescue, also in a Bell 407 when he inadvertently stood up into a turning rotor blade- likely from a position of rising terrain.)

With all three subjects loaded in the back and all three displaying obvious symptoms of heat exhaustion, we began the short flight to the top of the canyon. The landing site was on the golf course, next to the road and the waiting fire trucks. Three more heat victims safely delivered back to civilization.

RESCUE #3: This one is my favorite, if there can be such a thing. I believe it was one week later, the following Monday, my partner and I received another call of three female hikers in distress at Cedar Creek Falls, but this time they were on the trail on the Julian side. Today however, we were flying one of our preferred MD530 model helicopters. Though it can carry less people it has shorter rotor blades for getting into smaller spaces, and it has a different and more rugged landing gear much more capable of landing on uneven or rough terrain. We simply make up for the fewer seats by making more trips.

A quick check of our fuel status revealed that we had a sufficient amount to respond to the call.  Having already burned off a hundred or so pounds of fuel is an added benefit.

The trail on the Julian side is not the same as the trail on the Ramona side, for either the hiker or for the helicopter. First it is a longer trail, with even less shade, (almost none) and fewer places to land. The trail is pretty much a drop off on one side, and a steep incline on the other.

We arrived and began at the lower end of the trail, working our way towards the top.  Again, there were no persons readily visible on the trail.  About one fourth of the way up my partner advised that he thought he had them. We turned and came back to the spot on the trail that caught his eye. Sure enough under the shade of a small overhang, were three female hikers all of which appeared to be around 19-21 years of age.

Luckily for all of us the group as about 100' down the trail from one of the two or three spots where we could land. In this particular location there is just enough clearance to get both skids down on the trail, while maintaining a safe distance between the rotor blade tips and the rising terrain on the opposite side of the trail. With the helicopter on the ground my partner was off once again to contact and evaluate the three subjects. The report came back that two were declining medical treatment but the third was definitely exhibiting symptoms that required medical treatment.

This rescue would require three trips, thus a total of three landings on the trail. My partner assisted the first (and the one in need of medical treatment) to the helicopter. While she was able to walk with assistance, it was obvious she was in pretty bad shape and would never make it out of the canyon without assistance. Once secured in the back of the helicopter we were off to the familiar fire trucks waiting at the east end of the Ramona Country Estates.  Then it was back to the trail for two more landings and two more flights. This time however the young ladies were ferried back up to the trail head where their vehicle was parked.

Throughout the course of the event you start to get some indicators of the overall condition of the subjects involved, and to some extent the value that they place on the level of service you have provided. This rescue was starting to score pretty high on both scales. The bright red faces left little doubt that the subjects were suffering from heat exhaustion. But the best indicator was as we were off loading the second subject at the top of the trail, she felt it necessary to give a big hug of thanks to one of her rescuers.

Back at the top of the trail with the third subject, my partner once again exits the helicopter to assist the young lady out of the back and away from the turning rotors. This subject too expressed her gratitude with a hug, and then peeked into the cockpit to mouth the words "thank you."

There was little doubt about what value these 9 subjects placed on publicly funded helicopters and the missions they sometimes carry out. Glad to be of help!

In other rescues there was the Japanese film crew that was accompanying members of our narcotics task force to a marijuana grow in a very remote area of Palomar Mountain.  Whether it was a lack of water intake or just an intolerance to the heat, this subject fell ill and could not hike back out of the canyon where the operation and filming was taking place.  Some of our own pilots were already on scene performing long line operations, and advised that it a hoist rescue would be required due to location.

For this rescue we responded and met up with the crew of one of our fire rescue helicopters.  The victim was located and the two crews joined up on the rescue ship to perform the hoist rescue. The victim was soon plucked from his spot on the trail without incident and delivered to medical personnel waiting at a nearby airport.

Another hoist rescue from the trail at Cedar Creek Falls allowed our unit to utilize a new victim rescue harness called the screamer suit. The screamer suit looks like a combination oversize sleveless vest, and a big red diaper. But as long as the victim can stand it goes on in seconds and is one of the quickest and easiest harnesses to use.

While our hoist rescue program is a joint program with Cal Fire, this rescue was performed completely by Cal Fire personnel as the rescue crew, with a deputy pilot.

My partner and I had already landed on the trail and determined that the victim could not be loaded into the back of our small helicopter. 

Our fire rescue helicopter soon arrived on scene, and lowered the rescue specialist, also known as "RS1" in hoist rescue lingo.  Within minutes the victim had been placed in the screamer suit and was riding the cable up to the rescue helicopter.  Excellent work by the all Cal Fire rescue personnel crewing the back of the ship on this day. 

Lastly, there was the individual walking or hiking in the desert that did not have a way to call for help when he ran out of water and was overcome by the heat.  This person's final resting place was a hot and barren landscape in the area of Corizzo Wash in San Diego's east county.  I believe the report came in from Border Patrol, who normally gets the information from other undocumented migrants or "international travelers" as they are sometimes called. 

The first helicopter responded to the lat & long coordination with the Medical Examiner Investigator but was unable to locate the body.  The following day a more accurate lat & long was obtained and a second helicopter crew went out and ultimately located the body.  Marker tape was left on a nearby bush and plans were made to remove the body on the following day.  These type of removals require coordination with the M.E.'s office, the rural patrol unit whose beat the body is on, and the two person team the M.E. contracts with to perform the actual transport. 

All of the coordination and plans were made thanks to my partner, so the following morning we set out for the flight to the location with the lady medical examiner investigator in the back seat.  The operation went fairly smooth as the morning quickly turned hot.  My partner and the investigator were dropped off at the location of the body with all of the necessary equipment.  This includes body bags, cargo net and cable to attach to the bottom of the helicopter. 

I flew the mile or two to the staging location where rural deputies and the removal crew were staged, picked up one of the crew members and delivered him to the body location to assist the investigator.  After the body was packaged and ready to be flown out, the investigator and the removal crew member were flown back to the staging location on Highway S-2.  Upon returning the line was attached to the helicopter and the helicopter was positioned in a hover over the body for my partner to make the connection to the cargo net.  The body was then lifted and flown back to the staging area.  Finally I returned and picked up my partner, then it was back to the staging area to recover some equipment and the investigator and make a bee line back to the base and to cooler air. 

Body recovery operations like this happen year around in our back country, and are fairly routine. 

Helicopters do indeed save lives.

Mystery Solved, Photographer of "Questionable" Helicopter Pic Identified

David Schinman photo www.davidschinman.com

A couple of weeks back I wrote a post about how this photo was dragged into the center of a political media circus in a story that got national attention.  One particular website went so far as to grab this photo off of the S.D. Sheriff's Official website and label it "Helicopter Porn." You can imagine that this got my attention when it came across my Google alerts.

I noted at the time that these three SWAT deputies were asked to pose for the photo by a professional photographer, who likely used the photo in a law enforcement magazine article.  I even went so far as to call it art. 

I first attributed the photo to Dan Megna, one of our recently retired pilots who is also an accomplished photographer.  But Dan directed me to a friend, Jason Colquhoun, who also leads a double life as both a professional helicopter pilot (Jason flies for Hummingbird Helicopters- a crop spraying operation in So. Cal.) and a professional photographer and writer.  Jason currently writes for Vertical Magazine, a popular helicopter publication.

I recently got a-hold of Jason, fully expecting him to take credit for the above photo.  However, Jason advised that the photo in question is the handi-work of one Dave Schinman, a professional photographer out of New York City, (I think Jason got the assist though).  A quick peek at www.davidschinman.com confirms that Mr. Schinman is indeed an accomplished photographer who it appears has photographed the likes of Donald Trump. 

Perhaps Mr. Schinman would be amused to learn that one of his photos reached the status of "helicopter porn." 

Mystery solved!

Still looks like art to me.................   

SD Sheriff Fire Rescue Helicopter Assists Plane Crash Victim

Cal Fire personnel treating plane crash victim with Sheriff fire helicopter in background, photo by Cal Fire Chief Nick Schuler.A San Diego Sheriff Fire Rescue Helicopter was in the right spot at the right time last Saturday to assist a plane crash victim on the Guejito Ranch located east of Valley Center and north of Ramona Airport. 

Guejito Ranch is a well known area by most pilots in San Diego County due to it's dirt airstrip situated on several thousand acres of grazing land, dotted by oak trees and plenty of wide open semi-flat areas perfectly suitable for emergency landings.  Many pilots may not know that it is the largest of the original Spanish Land Grants still in existence today in Southern California.  The ranch is privately owned.

The uncontrolled airspace above the ranch is for obvious reasons popular among CFI's and students of both fixed wing and rotor wing aircraft. 

At the same time however the manager of the working cattle ranch has understandably had his fill of training helicopters buzzing around the ranch at low level, at times a nuisance to his cattle.  But he has probably also had his fill of both fixed and rotor wing aircraft coming to rest on the ranch in conditions best described as no longer airworthy. 

Let's see there was the Schweitzer 300 N58332 that I did most of my initial flight training in, which ended up in a state of disrepair at the bottom of a simulated auto-rotation "gone bad", on the dirt airstrip. 

Then there was the helicopter from the Ramona Helicopter Museum that went down into the trees with 4 people on board after a loss of engine power.  All four people walked away but the helicopter was totalled. 

Then there was the low wing single engine airplane that apparently suffered engine failure and performed a flawless belly landing literally in the back yard of the ranch managers house. 

And Saturday it was the experimental airplane pictured above.  Thankfully once again the injuries were non fatal.  And that is just in the past 4 years, and I have probably missed one or two.

According to Cal Fire Chief Nick Shuler the plane suffered a loss of engine power and the pilot attempted to make an emergency landing on the ranch.  During the landing roll the plane became inverted causing moderate injuries to the pilot, who was up walking around when fire personnel arrived on scene.

Coincidentally a SD Sheriff's Fire helicopter piloted by Deputy G. Palos, and with a Cal Fire Captain occupying the TFO seat, was in the area, heard the call and landed to assist.  The call apparently came into the Sheriff's communication center at around 11:10 am. 

Due to an extended ETA by Mercy Air, Deputy Palos and his Cal Fire partner flew the victim (along with a ground paramedic) to Scripps Hospital in La Jolla Ca., for treatment.  Normally Sheriff's fire rescue helicopters do not perform medivacs, but they can and will when the ETA for other medivac ships are extended. 

As far as Guejito Ranch is concerned pilots will continue to use the airspace above the ranch for practice, it would be a little silly to think they wouldn't.  But it would be wishful thinking to believe that at some point in time another aircraft will not end up in a non flying state somewhere on the ranch.  Hopefully it will be without injuries:)

Helicopter Featured in PHP Photo Gallery Involved in Fatal Crash

N61735 MD500 (Hughes 369D) helicopter involved in fatal crash in Pa.

In April of this year I posted this photo taken by Deputy Rocky Laws, in the policehelicopterpilot.com photo gallery.  It was a beautiful MD500 often seen flying in and out of Gillespie Field (our home base) in El Cajon Ca.  I was sure that this photo captured by Rocky would be appreciated by any helicopter enthusiast, and since we fly MD's also, it was more than worthy of being included in the gallery.

I was sad to learn that this helicopter was involved in a fatal crash last week, (July 22nd) in Wharton Township Pa., while reportedly performing "long line" operations in support of natural gas survey work. 

Early reports by the news media indicated that the line and basket underneath the helicopter may have become entangled in trees, and the pilot attempted to make an emergency or crash landing.  However, a quick look at the crash photos tells a different story.

First, a line becoming entangled in the trees is not necessarily an emergency for an experienced and properly trained long line pilot, which I have no doubt this pilot was.  A helicopter pilot performing long line operations in and around trees or other obstacles will be leaning out the door far enough to keep an constant eye on the line and load.  That is why it is also referred to as "vertical reference flying" because the pilot is often looking straight down at the ground and his load, and flying the helicopter by visual reference to the ground below him instead of out in front of him or her.  

This type of flying is generally slow, with an emphasis on precision.  If a line becomes entangled the pilot simply works to get the line untangled, or "pickles" (releases) the load.  These hooks on the belly of the helicopter generally have an electronic release button, with a back up manual release handle both mounted right on the cyclic.  Pilots are also trained to test both release methods prior to any long line work. 

The greater danger in performing long line work is that you are often working outside of the height velocity curve that is publised in the operating manual for every helicopter.  This is also sometimes called "dead mans curve." 

In the event of an engine out the helicopter absolutely must have an acceptable combination of  altitude and airspeed in order to enter autorotation.  The right combination of altitude and airspeed will keep the  air rushing up through those rotor blades (collective must be immediately lowered) and keep them turning at a sufficient rpm and with enough energy to cushion the landing.  This technique works every time when performed properly and when operating inside the published height velocity diagram, (500' and 60 knots is an example of a good altitude and airspeed combination for most helicopters, while 200' and 20 knots or a hover at 200' is an example of a height and velocity where most helicopters would be incapable of performing a successful autorotation.)

However, long line operations by their nature require pilots to operate outside of the height velocity diagram.  If you are using a 100' line and you are in a precision hover picking up or placing a load then you are operating outside of the height velocity diagram.  This is perfectly legal, and helicopter pilots accept this risk when performing long line operations as well as certain other helicopter maneuvers. 

While I am not a trained helicopter accident investigator certain logical conclusions can be drawn simply by examining the photos published in the news stories of this crash.  All 5 blades on this helicopter are completely intact and do not appear to have any damage normally associated with blades which are spinning at flight rpm, and involved in a crash.  One would expect to see splintered blades, deeply gouged dirt and much more significant damage to the cabin fuselage if the crash occurred with the engine and rotorblades spinning at the proper rpm.  Instead you see blades that are intact but drooped and touching the ground on all sides of the aircraft, much more indicative of a very hard impact with low rotor rpm. 

Rather than getting his line caught in the trees as reported by a number of news outlets, this helicopter more likely experienced engine problems or an engine out while flying outside of the height velocity curve.  Even the best helicopter pilots in the world may not have been able to recover and survive such an occurance. 

This is tragic and sad event for helicopter aviation and PHP.com sends it's condolences to the pilot's family and friends. 

According to the FAA the helicopter was a Hughes 369D manufactured in 2002 and owned by Utility Helicopters Inc at 1948 Joe Crosson Dr in El Cajon Ca., (Gillespie Field). 

The helicopter was likely leased or contracted out to Geokinetics of Oregon for the survey work being conducted.   

San Diego Sheriff Helicopter Photo Dragged Into Political Media Circus

San Diego Sheriff ASTREA MD530F Helicopter & SWAT deputiesA photo of a San Diego Sheriff's helicopter with three SWAT team members has been thrust into the center of a political media circus, at least by the radical left blog/website, talkingpointsmedia.com.  Obviously a knock off of the Bill Orielly Fox News "Talking Points Memo". 

Look this is not a political website and I will not enter into the political fray.  But the San Diego Sheriff's Department, Deputy Marshall Abbott, and even the Sheriff's ASTREA Aviation Unit are taking an undeserved political beating, at least by the far left radical bloggers, headed up by talkingpointsmemo.com.

This all stems from a noise complaint by a neighbor in the seaside community of Cardiff By The Sea, (Encinitas Ca.) during a democratic fundraising event by democratic congressional hopeful Francine Busby of the 50th congressional district. 

I will not get into the particulars of the case as I will leave that up to the various department investigators and external media looking into the incident,  but here is a readers digest version. 

Francine  Busby makes a political fundraising speech at the home of a reported lesbian couple.  Annoyed neighbor allegedly makes anti-democratic and anti-gay slurs over the fence.  Sheriff's Department receives a noise complaint from someone who states they are willing to sign a citizens arrest form against the person's responsible for disturbing their peace.  Oh, and Mrs. Busby did use some type of loud speaker system, for some period of time, during the speech. 

Now there are tons of details that I am not going to get into for the purposes of this post, but it is a whole lot of "he said she said type stuff."  Ultimately a deputy attempted to arrest the homeowner for 148(a) PC Resisting and Obstructing an Officer in the Performance of his Duties. 

The crowd of attendees attempted to rescue the homeowner from the custody of the deputy, and pepper spray was deployed.  All the makings of an early Christmas present for the radical political bloggers to say the least.

Essentially all of the headlines state something like "Democratic fundraiser raided by San Diego Sheriff's Department with 8 patrol cars and helicopter."  Of course each headline is a variation of the above, but they are all pretty much consistent. 

Now look, I don't care if you are an Independent, Democrat, Republican, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Straight or Gay, that is your business not mine.  The fact is that certain radical bloggers are getting a lot of mileage out of this incident. 

Here is the real crux of this article.  Talkingpointsmemo.com has written numerous articles/post about this incident.  But I really had to laugh and the last article that came across my "Google Alerts." 

"Helicopter Porn" was the title of their latest post.  Well this got my attention!  I guess the talkingpintsmemo.com just couldn't resist the urge to trash, besmirch and belittle a photo of three of San Diego's SWAT Deputies posing on an ASTREA helicopter.

We'll get to that photo in a moment, but here is a tidbit of info for any unbiased bloggers or reporters out there. 

Hint- a "raid" is when you get a bunch of cops together with a tactical plan, generally a search warrant or 4th waiver search, and you plan to go and hit a place, generally someplace where criminals and crooks hide and reside.  This is a planned, thought out event. 

A single deputy sheriff accompanied by a civilian psych clinician-PERT (Psychological Emergency Response Team) member, responding to a noise complaint, attempting to fill out a first response notice, sanctioned by the City of Encinitas, who is met with resistance and then a hostile crowd, and is forced to call for "cover" or assistance from other deputies, is hardly a "raid."  My 12 year old son understands this difference but apparently certain members of the media don't. 

The radical bloggers seem to be perplexed as to why a Sheriff's Department Helicopter and 8 patrol cars would show up to a "democratic fundraising event," as if it was all planned and all a political maneuver. 

So here is a tip for the radical bloggers.  When a deputy sheriff or a police officer anywhere in the entire freakin confines of San Diego County calls for "cover" for any damn reason at all, they are going to get the whole enchilada!  Patrol cars, helicopters, k9 units, bordering agencies, CHP, Border Patrol, Private Security or anybody else who gets the message that an officer or deputy needs help.  We don't really give a damn if it's in a gang infested neighborhood or an upscale community in Cardiff By The Sea!

To be more specific, how about that helicopter?  Well genius, we go out on patrol for the sole purpose of assisting any officer or deputy on the ground that can use our assistance.  While we are up on patrol we monitor 2-3-4 police radios with multiple frequencies, handling the radio traffic of several hundred law enforcement officers throughout the county.  While the helicopter is on patrol it responds to any damn call it is requested for, or which the crew thinks in can be of any assistance!  

For example, we will routinely orbit any traffic stops we come across or which we hear put out by an officer within our general vicinity.  I don't care (and I don't know) what political, racial, or sexual persuasion the driver of the car happens to be.   It may be a little old lady on the way to Sunday services, or a hard core gang member with prior violent felony assault on police officers!  Additional, I don't give a damn what race, sex, political affiliation, or sexual preference the deputy or officer happens to be.  When a deputy or officer ask for assistance, they get it!  Helicopter and all.

So in this incident the helicopter was not a part of a so called "raid."  Rather it was responding to a deputy sheriff asking for assistance!  And it will continue to respond to any law enforcement officer(s) in the county who ask for assistance, as well as a multitude of other crimes and incidents. 

So about that helicopter photo:  Talkingpointsmemo.com just couldn't resist the temptation to scan the San Diego Sheriff's official website for a helicopter photo for a blog post they titled "Helicopter Porn".  The article generally be-smirches the SWAT deputies calling the photo "beef-cakish" and somehow offering it as an explanation for the "raid" on the democratic fund raising event. 

The photo in question is of three SWAT deputies (talkingpointsmemo.com incorrectly identifies them as pilots) posing on one of our MD 530F helicopters, at the request of a professional photographer.  I believe the photo was taken specifically for use in a law enforcement magazine article.  A damn nice photo if you ask me.  In fact I think some people would call this art, but then I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. 

P.S. Talkingpointsmemo.com, don't assume that every law enforcement officer that you belittle and love to hate, votes Republican, because I can assure you they do not.

Lastly, radical blogger(s) if you or your family were taken hostage by a hardened criminal or terrorist (I know you don't really believe terrorist exist, but try for just a moment) you would beg and pray for these three men (and others like them) to come and save you and your family members, (think Russian school hostage incident).  You would still hate them afterward, but then it is a free country after all!

Cleveland Police Helicopter Pilot Makes Perfect Engine Out Landing!

Cleveland Ohio Police Officer Art Fantroy executed a near textbook auto rotational landing maneuver when the engine in his MD500E helicopter suddenly decided to stop working.  Pilot/Officer Fantroy was not injured and the helicopter suffered no damage during the emergency landing on a farm 20 miles south of Mansfield Oh. 

Fantroy was apparently ferrying the helicopter to Columbus for routine maintenance when the incident occurred.  Fantroy previously flew helicopters in both Vietnam and in the first Gulf War. 

MD Helicopters enjoy a strong following among the pilots who fly them.  It is a rugged and versatile helicopter design that has been proven over time.  If you are going to have an engine out in a helicopter, this is a good one to be in.  They are known in the helicopter industry as one of the most crash worthy helicopters you can strap yourself into.  What does that mean?  That means that if you screw up the engine out, auto rotation, emergency landing procedure, you will still probably walk away from it with all of your extremities intact.

With that said there seems to be something amiss right now with the particular engines in the MD500E.  Columbus Ohio PD has had two engine out incidents in this same make and model helicopter, within the last year or so.  Both of those pilots also walked away with either none or very minor injuries, (one helicopter rolled onto it's side as a result of landing in soft or muddy terrain.)

During a recent 100 hour inspection our mechanics discovered a cracked fuel nozzle in our own 500E which would have eventually resulted in a catastrophic engine failure at some point in the near future.  Excellent job by our maintenance division in discovering this fault!

Kudos again to Officer Fantroy for coming out of this emergency unscathed, and for saving the City of Cleveland a lot of money during this down turned economy, (no damage to the helicopter.)

Check out the first comment in this news story about the incident, I love it!