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Patrol Helicopter Returns to Air Over Louisville Kentucky

Police Helicopter Pilot.com file photo of Huntington Beach PD 520N NotarThe MD 520N (Notar) Helicopter known as "Air 20" returned to service Saturday flying it's first patrol flight in over two years, over the city of Louisville.  The helicopter, operated by Louisville Metro Police Department was damaged in a training accident in August of 2006.  It has been undergoing repairs in Arizona since the crash.

To make matters worse LMPD was forced to sell the second helicopter "Air 10" in 2008 due to budgetary reasons.  As a result LMPD was left without a Police Patrol Helicopter for over a year. 

Part of the delay in repairing the helicopter was a lack of parts according to officials, (MD Helicopters went through a period where they were slow or unable to provide many replacement helicopter parts. However this situation has improved immensely under the leadership of MD's CEO Lynn Tilton.)  Eventually the repairs were made and the helicopter was picked up by LMPD pilots last week and flown cross country back to Kentucky.  No problems were reported with the helicopter during the return flight.

The crash in 06 occurred with a student pilot at the controls of Air 20, (closely followed by an instructor pilot on the second set of controls.)  The student pilot was practicing a steep approach to a hover in an open field when things awry.  After a momentary hover the helicopter landed hard and rolled onto it's right side.  The NTSB determined the cause of the crash as follows; "The pilot's failure to maintain control of the helicopter and the instructor's inadequate supervision which resulted in a hard landing and subsequent rollover."

When asked if Air 20 could suffer the same fate as Air 10, LMPD's police chief made it clear that he values police officers over police helicopters, and that everything is on the table. 

The flight status of the two officers involved in the original crash is unknown, but PHP staff wishes them well in their flying careers.  This crash is another example of the very dynamic nature of helicopter flight.

Additional Info:  Notar was developed by MD Helicopter engineers, and stands for "no tail rotor."  The anti-torque normally achieved with a tail rotor on other helicopters, is achieved on the Notar through a number of design features, including the vectoring of compressed air (at the proper angles and amounts) from a vent at the end of the tail boom.  While Notar's are much quieter without the tail rotor noise, they have their own flight characteristics and some drawbacks which make them undesirable for some missions, such as mountain work.

San Bernardino Sheriff's Aviation will Request 5 Surplus Huey Helicopters

On Tuesday of this week the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors gave the go ahead for the Sheriff's Department to pursue five surplus UH-1H Huey helicopters from the Department of Defense.  The SBSD will make the request through the State of California ,Governors Office of Emergency Services who administers the program on the state level.

Wikimedia.org file photo of a UH-1H Huey (Bell) Helicopter

According to Lt. Dave Gregory of the Sheriff's Aviation Division, the helicopters will be refurbished and used for a variety of missions, to include transporting narcotic officers, SWAT officers, evidence, or even potential casualties. 

The Sheriff's office will receive the helicopters at no cost to the tax payers of San Bernardino County.  This is a huge benefit as each helicopter has an estimated value of between $500,000 and 1 million dollars. 

Giving surplus military helicopters to local law enforcement agencies is nothing new however.  Many smaller sheriff's departments and police agencies started their aviation units strictly with military surplus aircraft, (operated under public use rules.)

The DOD is releasing approximately 100 aircraft to various law enforcement agencies this year, and are eager to get rid of them according to Lt. Gregory.  The governors office has called several times to ensure that they are still interested in accepting the helicopters. 

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Aviation Division already operate 2 Huey helicopters which are about 40 years old.  The 5 helicopters they stand ready to receive are about 10 years newer than the two they are currently operating.  It is unlikely that all 5 helicopters will be put into operation.  It is much more probable that 2 to 3 will be put into operation and the others used for spare parts.  This approach is fairly common for agencies who receive surplus aircraft. 

About San Bernardino Sheriff's Aviation Division:  San Bernardino has the honor of being the largest single county in the United States of America, encompassing approximately 20,000 square miles.  It is about 4-5 times larger than Los Angeles County, and stretches all the way to the Arizona Border.  The highest peak in the county is San Gorgonio at 11,500 ft. 

To provide effective law enforcement services to such a large county requires a number of aviation assets.  In addition to the two Huey Helicopter's mentioned above, San Bernardino Sheriff's aviation division operates the following helicopters/aircraft;

6 ASTAR B-3 Eurocopters

1- MD 500E Helicopter

1- Bell 212 Helicopter

1- Sikorsky H-3

2- Fixed wing aircraft

The Aviation Division is made up of a Captain, Lieutenant, 2- Sergeants, 1- Corporal, 9- Deputy Pilots, and 7- Deputy Flight Tactical Officers. 

In addition to  providing law enforcement services, SBSD is the primary Search and Rescue agency in the county.  The unit is based at the Rialto Ca., airport.