#6. The UFO at Flight Altitude: One day about 2 years ago I was on the pilot side of the helicopter flying patrol over the City of Escondido California when I see something go by my door. Always on the lookout for other air traffic, this unknown object sent me into a hyper vigilant state until I could determine what it was. After a little evasive action I entered a nice wide orbit and got the object back into view for both myself and the TFO to keep an eye on. Sure enough it was a standard beach variety kite, only it was flying about 800' agl over the city. It was not easy but we tracked the kite string back to a strip mall on the west side of the city. An Escondido PD motor unit contacted the wayward kite flyer. It was a Chinese business man trying to attract attention to the Chinese bakery he just opened. Don't know if kite string wrapped around the rotor head would bring a helicopter down, but we sure didn't want to find out on this day. Ok, that was not whacked out of your gourd crazy, (that's why it's number six) but still crazy.
#5 Mercedes Benz BBQ Style: One sunny morning my partner and I were on patrol when we got word that CHP was in pursuit of a car jacking suspect south bound out of Orange County. The suspect was driving a new Mercedes Benz sedan, 4 door, black. We picked up the pursuit in Carlsbad California and began tracking it S/B on the I-5 freeway. The pursuit was crazy fast hitting speeds well up around 100 mph when traffic allowed. The driver did an outstanding job of turning the inside shoulder into another high speed traffic lane. Eventually the Mercedes got caught behind a line of concrete barriers in a construction zone, and came head to head with several pieces of heavy equipment on the inside shoulder. He was completely trapped.
The driver took the foot and toe express over the center median and dodged his way through north bound traffic, which caused my partner and I to wince several times as many a vehicle came close to sending him to that the big house in the sky. The driver made his way into a quiet upscale neighborhood going from house to house and yard to yard trying his best to avoid the pesky police helicopter doing tight felony orbits directly over his head.
At about two minutes into the foot chase I glanced back to where the Mercedes Benz set trapped on the freeway shoulder to see it fully engulfed in flames. It was crazy surreal. The car did nothing to deserve this fate, it was parked peacefully on the shoulder it experienced an episode of spontaneous combustion. The black smoke pouring from the fully engulfed Mercedes Benz added a nice ambiance to the rest of our foot chase. The suspect finished off his little run with a play date with the nice police doggy. This was crazy good.
#4 Car Falls Out of Space Through Roof of Building- Seriously: One balmy summers eve we were on patrol over the sleepy hamlet of Vista California when we heard the Fire Department and deputies from the Vista Patrol station respond to a fire alarm in a commercial district of the city. It certainly was not a call for the police helicopter so we went about minding our own business waiting for the big one to come in. As units arrived on scene however we began to hear mutterings of a vehicle that was setting inside the business. Even more interesting was that the vehicle apparently entered through the roof. Say what? This made it all the more suspicious since the commercial area was pretty much flat, and there were no multi story parking structures in the area. Well we just had to see what this was all about for ourselves.
We trotted right on over and put our big spotlight down on the roof of the building. Sure enough there was a great big hole. And setting right there at the bottom of the hole was a car. A stolen car to be exact. It seems that somebody drove the stolen car to the business then used a large industrial grade fork lift to pick up the car and maneuver it over to the side of the building- lifting it as high into the air as possible, then dropping it through the roof of the structure, (OK so it didn't really fall from space but it might as well have.) Who would do such a thing? I think an angry former employee was at the top of the suspect list!
#3 Incredible Crazy Meteor Shower On Night Vision Goggles: If you think about it there is only a tiny percentage of the entire worlds population who get to experience night flight on night vision goggles. That would mostly be helicopter pilots- and then only military, medical, and police helicopter pilots/crews. Yes I am sure there are a few others individuals who get to experience this amplified natural phenomenon, but for the most part that is it.
Remember now that night vision goggles work by amplifying the ambient light somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 times (just pick whatever number works best for you.) What this means is that on a clear night on patrol in San Diego we can look north and see the commercial air traffic lined up on approach to LAX in Los Angeles. Powerful stuff I say!
Now bring on the meteor showers. These meteor showers only come around so often and if you are lucky enough to be scheduled on the night crew, at the height of one of these events of nature then strap in, sit back and enjoy because you are in for one hell-uva light show! Let me explain it this way. Some of the meators appear bright enough and close enough that for a split second your mind is telling you to take corrective action with the helicopter to avoid a collision. Now that's crazy!
#2 Perp Takes AR-15 Round to the Head But is Unfazed: Ok "perp" really is not police jargon that I have ever heard, (at least on the west coast) so I just threw it in for you CSI fans. Ok, so bad guy steals truck and goes on a mid morning burglarizing campaign on the outskirts of Escondido California and he doesn't really seem to care who sees him. This is probably due to the natural diet of methamphetamines coursing through his blood stream.
So patrol deputy in car, bad guy in stolen truck, and Sheriff's helicopter crew all meet up at the same intersection at about the same time. You guessed it, short pursuit during which the meth head finds himself trapped up a long driveway that leads to a single residence where one little old lady lives. Realizing the situation he is in, the bad guy does what any of us would do, start ramming the patrol car!
Hey why does it look like the windshield of that truck is giving off powder puffs of glass. Perhaps it's .223 rounds creating this phenomenon I am witnessing. Why yes that's exactly what that is, little .223 rounds sent down range by the deputy who did not appreciate being assaulted. Thinking that the "perp" just checked out of this world I was shocked to see him open the door, step out, and politely prone himself out on the ground. Guess the deputy missed.
Now since the deputy was by himself, and the little old lady had all of her cars parked in the garage, and since she had a great big old drive way, my pilot momentarily parked our helicopter behind the patrol car long enough to let me climb out. I placed the handcuffs on said crook while the patrol deputy continued to hold him at gunpoint.
After all was calm and serene we noticed just a trickle of blood on the side of the parolee's face so I assumed it was just a small cut from broken glass. Wrong; Emergency room doctor advised that he took a round in the head, or a major part of a round, but it apparently did a little jig and did not penetrate the skull. And what did the non-courteous driver have to say? "You guys did the right thing- You guys did the right thing." Seriously, that's what he was mumbling. Crazy!
#1 And the number one craziest thing (that I can print) that I have seen from the cockpit of a police helicopter- involves a Sheriff's K9, a Man Hole Cover, and well yes- a Naked Man. The story goes like this.
Once again we are on patrol over that sleepy little hamlet of Vista California. We hear over the radio that a deputy is in a fight with a bad guy in a local park. Units are rolling code 3 to assist their fellow deputy, and we too are pedalling the helicopter as fast as we can. During the struggle and his attempt to escape the deputy, the suspect's shirt is ripped off. Just as cover units are arriving on scene the suspect breaks free and runs into a man size storm drain opening (where part of the city's storm drain system opens up into a creek.) One of the first units on scene is a Sheriff's K9 handler who releases his dog- just as the bad guy enters the darkened tunnel. Bad guy and police dog disappear into the dark underbelly of the City with K9 handler and cover deputy in foot pursuit to catch up.
For about the next five minutes the underground foot pursuit unfolds punctuated only by the occassional garbled transmissions from the pursuing deputies. After what seemed like forever a clear transmission made it through to dispatch. The deputies advised that they they had the suspect in custody and were coming up out of a manhole cover, but they had not idea where they were. The first deputy quickly obtained an address and radioed it to dispatch. A few seconds later and we were orbiting the tiny street and open man hole cover where the suspect and K9 deputy had yet to emerge.
What I saw next was damn near disturbing. Here comes the suspect up out of the man hole, stark naked, not even a sock- with his hands cuffed behind him. Now you are probably thinking what I was thinking. How do you climb a ladder with your hands cuffed behind you. There had to be somebody below giving him a push. I'm saying these deputies deserved an award for what they went through to get their man.
So where did the clothes go? Apparently every shred of clothing was ripped off of the suspect's body by the angry police dog, in the darkened bowls of the under city. The K9 deputy later said that the suspect was in a state of sheer terror, almost in shock from his encounter with the underground monster. Naked handcuffed man emerging from a man hole in the middle of the street; The #1 craziest thing I ever saw from the cockpit of a police helicopter!