The Phoenix Police Air Support Unit was first formed in 1973 with two Schweizer 300C piston powered helicopters and a single 172 Cessna airplane. Initially the unit operated out of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
In the years that followed the Phoenix Air Support underwent many changes and continued to grow in size. By 1979 the unit was operating a total of 5 Hughes (MD) 500D model helicopters with 10 officers and had moved into a new facility at Deer Valley Airport. By 1991 the unit had moved on to a fleet of 7 MD 520N (Notar) turbine powered helicopters and had staff of 23 officers. But the Phoenix Police Aviation Unit didn't stop there.
Today the Phoenix Police Department owns and operates a total of 8 helicopter and fixed wing aircraft to include; 3- Eurocopter AS350 helicopters, 3- Agusta A119, 1- Agusta A109 (twin turbine engines), 1- Cessna 182 and 2- Cessna 182s. There are a total of 28 officers currently assigned to the unit. The unit currently flies about 8,000 hours a year, and has helicopters and crews available to respond to calls on a 24/7 basis.
The Phoenix Police Air Support Unit conducts fire and rescue training in conjunction with the Phoenix Fire Department. Senior members of the unit train to deliver water on fires through the use of Bambi Buckets.
All members of the Phoenix Air Support Unit are sworn police officers with a minimum of three years experience on the streets. The selection process to become part of the Aviation Unit is very competitive.
The City of Phoenix is home to approximately 1.5 million people and is the 5th most populous city in the U.S.