APSA's E-Newsletter is designed to help keep you informed on the very latest information in the airborne law enforcement industry. The E-Newsletter may also be read online here at our website.
Aviation Officer Dies During Hoist Rescue
A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer died on July 22 after falling from a hoist line while attempting to rescue a hiker stranded in an off-limits area of a mountain northwest of the city. Officer David Vanbuskirk, 36, was mourned by his colleagues in a news conference after the incident.
"We're a big family, a close family, and this is going to be trying on us for quite a while," Las Vegas Police Assistant Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said. "We will survive it. We'll come back together, and hopefully in my lifetime, it will never happen again."
Rescuers responded around 9 p.m. to reports of a disoriented hiker on a rocky ledge. The area is marked off-limits to hikers, and a wildfire had been burning in the area for three weeks prior to the incident. After landing, Vanbuskirk attached a safety harness to the stranded man and signaled to the four rescue workers in the helicopter to hoist them up. Vanbuskirk somehow detached from the line during the hoist and fell to the ground below. The hiker was safely rescued.
Vanbuskirk worked for LVMPD since 1999 and served on the search and rescue team since 2007. Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said he had performed dozens of rescues like the one that killed him. Las Vegas rescue workers completed 130 helicopter rescues in the past 12 months.
Helicopter Operated by DEA & Kentucky State Police Crashes; Two Injured
Kentucky State Police say a helicopter conducting an ongoing investigation crashed in eastern Kentucky on July 29. Few details about the crash were available at press time. Kentucky State Trooper Shaun Little said the pilot, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officer, and TFO, a Kentucky State Trooper, were airlifted for injuries to the nearest hospital. The names of the officers were not released.
Local news reports indicate the helicopter was involved in a DEA-led marijuana eradication project, when the tail of the helicopter hit a wire, causing it to fall to the ground in flames. A witness said the pilot exited the aircraft and pulled the trooper to safety. Nearly all the wreckage burned, leaving a scorched patch of earth. The crash remains under investigation.
FAA Certifies First Commercial UAS
The Federal Aviation Administration said in late July it has issued its first restricted category type certificates to two unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). FAA called the approval "a milestone that will lead to the first approved commercial UAS operations later this summer."
The two approved systems are small. Insitu's Scan Eagle X200 weighs about 44 pounds, and AeroVironment's hand-launched Puma weighs 13 pounds. Each is about 4.5 feet long, with wingspans of 10 and 9 feet. "The major advantage of having type-certificated UAS models available is that they can be used commercially," FAA said in its statement. The type certificates will permit the use of the aircraft for aerial surveillance.
FAA said an energy company plans to fly the ScanEagle off the Alaska coast in international waters starting in August. The aircraft will be launched from a ship and conduct surveys of ocean ice floes and migrating whales. The Puma is expected to support emergency response crews for oil-spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance. "Issuing the type certificates is an important step toward the FAA's goal of integrating UAS into the nation's airspace," FAA said in its statement. Until now, obtaining an experimental airworthiness certificate was the only way the private sector could operate a UAS in the national airspace.
San Antonio Police Upgrades Fleet With Two New Choppers
The San Antonio (TX) Police Department Helicopter Detail announced in mid-July it purchased two Eurocopter EC120 helicopters as part of a fleet upgrade. The agency currently operates one Eurocopter AStar for use in firefighting, search and rescue and other special missions. The two new helicopters will be delivered to the department in early 2014.
The department said the decision to acquire the EC120s was reached after an extensive selection progress. "We were looking for a quality product that will support our missions to serve and protect the city's residents," said Sergeant David Torres of the department's Blue Eagle Helicopter Unit. "We have good experience with the AS350 B3 we have had since 2007. American Eurocopter has supported us very well."
Dallas Man Sentenced 30 Months for Lasing Police Helicopter
A man who aimed a laser pointer at a Dallas Police Department Helicopter Unit aircraft has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. The man pleaded guilty in February to a federal charge of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. He has been in custody since January 28 and was sentenced on July 25.
"This young man's conduct was extraordinarily dangerous and could have had disastrous consequences, which was reflected in the court's sentence today," U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldana said in a news release.
The helicopter was struck by a green laser at least four times while working a routine patrol. The pilot directed officers on the ground to a home where the man admitted to using the laser, saying he wanted to see how far it would go.
VIDEO: Helicopter Unit Assists in Apprehension
The Brevard County (FL) Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit assisted in the apprehension of a fleeing suspect in mid-July, pursuing his vehicle until it crashed on the highway shoulder and came to rest on a speed limit sign. Video captured by the Aviation Unit can be seen here: www.spacecoastdaily.com/2013/07/agencies-combine-forces-to-catch-fleeing-suspect/.
After the crash, the 27-year-old man was arrested for violation of probation and driving while license suspended, according to Lieutenant Richard Cordeau of the West Melbourne Police Department, which also assisted in the arrest along with the Palm Bay Police Department.
As the vehicle exited the interstate, officers activated their emergency lights, and the vehicle fled. Officers then backed off and allowed the helicopter to follow the suspect vehicle until it crashed.
Did You Know?
Did you know that APSA participates in conferences other than our own annual event? That's right, APSA staff and board members regularly represent you and the Association at conferences conducted by the Helicopter Association International (HAI), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), and the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). These APSA representatives participate in presentations, workshops, and committee meetings, promoting the Association and the airborne public safety industry while ensuring your collective voice is heard on matters that affect or could potentially impact your operations. In addition, APSA maintains a presence at the majority of these conferences through a booth in the exhibit hall staffed by these representatives. It's all part of the networking, advocacy, and educational program components of our mission to support, promote and advance the safe and effective utilization of aircraft by governmental agencies in support of public safety missions.
Next up is the AUVSI's Unmanned Systems 2013 in Washington, D.C., next week, August 12-15. If you happen to be attending, stop by the APSA booth, # 2952, and visit with APSA Executive Director Steve Ingley and CFO Dan Schwarzbach. If you don't currently have plans to attend but would like to, AUVSI has Uniform Days during which military, police, firefighters and first responders who come in uniform will be granted complimentary access to the exhibit hall and morning general sessions. For more info on the conference and Uniform Days, visit their website, http://www.auvsishow.org/auvsi13/public/enter.aspx.
10-Year Pennsylvania Aviation Unit Veteran Dies in Car Crash
A 22-year veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) was killed in a car accident in early July. State Police Sergeant John LaRose had flown an airplane for the department for more than a decade before the Aviation Unit in Montoursville was closed last year.
The sergeant was on his way home on July 1 when authorities said he lost control of his car and crashed into a SUV. Some of LaRose's fellow officers called him "one of the finest people" they have ever known.
PSP pilot Dave Frey remembers LaRose landing a state police plane years ago after the aircraft lost its engine. "The only place he really had to land available to him was a farmer's field that was crowned and on a hillside. People looked at it, â€˜how'd he do it?' But he landed the aircraft without damage."
Alaska DPS Acquiring Two New Helicopters
The Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) has ordered two new helicopters to augment its existing fleet of more than 40 aircraft. The first of two new AStars was delivered in a July 2 ceremony. The second is expected to arrive in early 2014.
The Alaska DPS fleet provides aerial support to both the Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Alaska State Troopers. The new aircraft will be permanently based in Fairbanks. Alaska DPS officials said they chose the aircraft because of its multi-mission capability, seating capacity, maneuverability and high-altitude performance.
Nebraska Man Gets Two Years for Pointing Laser at Aircraft
A 30 year-old Omaha, NE, man was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of shining a laser pointer at a police aircraft. A federal jury convicted the man for targeting an Omaha Police Department Air Support Unit helicopter with the laser pointer in April.
The police helicopter was responding to a report of a commercial airliner being struck by a laser one hour earlier. The man is the first person indicted in the state of Nebraska under the new federal law making it a crime to target aircraft with lasers.
MSP, Dekalb County Win Night Vision Awards at Annual APSA Conference
The Night Vision Awards selection committee announced the winners of its 2013 honorees at the APSA Annual Convention in Orlando, FL on July 18.
The Community Awareness Award is given to a unit that has demonstrated leadership in NVG flights in their community. The award goes to those who raise awareness about the need for NVGs, help other organizations obtain NVGs or work to bring goggles to their own fleet to enhance safety in their community. The recipient of the award this year was the Minnesota State Patrol. The Mark of Excellence Award, which recognizes a unit that signifies dedication to quality and excellence in their operation, was presented to the Dekalb County (GA) Police Department.
The Night Vision Awards 5-Year Service honor, which is presented to units that have successfully flown with NVGs for five years, went to the Dekalb County (GA) Police Department, Kern County (CA) Sheriff's Office, Minnesota State Patrol, and Sarasota County (FL) Sheriff's Office. The 10- Year Service award, presented to units that have flown with NVGs for 10 years, was given to the City of Albuquerque (NM) Air Support Unit, Martin County (FL) Sheriff's Office, and Tucson (AZ) Police Air Support Unit.
SOURCE: Branding Iron
FAA Warns Municipality Encouraging UAS Hunting
The Federal Aviation Administration warned the public in late July that firing guns at unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) endangers the public and property and could be prosecuted or fined. FAA released a statement in response to an ordinance under consideration in Colorado that would encourage hunters to shoot down UAS. The FAA reiterated that it regulates the airspace over cities and towns like the one in which the ordinance was put forward.
A UAS "hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air," the statement said. "Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane."
Under the proposed ordinance, the city of Deer Trail, CO, would grant hunting permits to shoot drones. The permits would cost $25 each. The town would also award $100 to anyone who presents a valid hunting license and can prove they shot a UAS. The proposed ordinance is mostly a symbolic protest against UAS.
Italian Police Contracts for Two New AW139s
The Italian Police force took delivery of its first two AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopters in early July. The aircraft will be operated by the 1st Aviation Unit of the Italian Police and based at Pratica di Mare, close to Rome.
The department has ordered eight AW139s from AgustaWestland in all. The additional aircraft will be delivered in the coming months. The Italian Police joins a number of other Italian government agencies operating the AW139, including the Italian Coast Guard, Guardia di Finanza (Customs and Border protection) and the Italian Air Force.
The department's AW139 configuration includes a high definition FLIR, satellite communication system, searchlight, rescue hoist and cabin mission console. The aircraft will replace a number of older helicopter models as part the force's fleet modernization plans.
Florida Man Arrested After Lasing Aviation Search Unit
Osceola County (FL) Sheriff's Office deputies arrested a man who distracted their Aviation Unit with a laser pointer as it searched for lost boaters in late June. The pilot and TFO were blinded by a green laser light three times while conducting their search.
The Aviation Unit was able to locate the source of the light, and ground units responded to the location. Deputies arrested the 20-year-old man after he gave them the laser and admitted to shining it at the helicopter. The man was charged with pointing a laser device at a driver/pilot.
Maryland Aviation Unit Spots Drowning Victim
The Maryland State Police Aviation Command discovered the body of a 20 year-old drowning victim on July 23. Anne Arundel County Fire Department officials said the aviation unit located the victim about 1,500 feet from the pier from which he had fallen.
he fire department said it originally received multiple calls for a drowning in the area around 3:30 p.m. the previous day. The fire department marine division and dive team members searched the area until 9 p.m. with no success. The search was suspended until the next morning, when the aircrew made the discovery.
Austin Police Adds NVGs to New Helicopter
The City of Austin (TX) Police Department (APD) Air Support Unit recently converted its new AS350 B3e AStar helicopter to NVG compatibility. The unit expects the new aircraft, which will be delivered in August, to expand its critical support roles, such as external load fire suppression, increased passenger and payload capabilities, and other safety enhanced missions, in addition to NVG operations.
The conversion, performed by REBTECH, was completed using FAA supplemental type certificated equipment. REBTECH supports civil and military aviation night vision clients flying both rotorcraft and fixed-wing assets.
Police Scotland Ends Use of Volunteer Pilots for Rescue Service
Police Scotland will no longer use civilian volunteer pilots in its Sky Watch service, which performs missing persons searches and other life-saving operations across the country. The volunteer pilots of the U.K. Civil Air Patrol have been providing aerial support to the emergency services since being formed in Yorkshire in 2000.
Scotland has two operational units, the Highland Civil Air Patrol and the Lowland Unit. The civilian volunteers have now been told that their services are no longer required by the new national police force in Scotland, as the air support unit is now available nationwide.
A spokesman for the Scottish arm of the U.K. Civil Air Patrol said the volunteers were baffled by the decision. "Police Scotland has recently announced that it will no longer request the assets of the U.K. Civil Air Patrol in any capacity," he said. "This, we believe, is due in principal to an erroneous interpretation of the U.K. Air Navigation Order." The order regulates aviation within the U.K. and governs the use of aircraft operated in service of the police.
CHP Chopper Rescues Lost Biker
A Napa-based California Highway Patrol helicopter assisted in the search and rescue of a lost mountain biker. Just after 8 p.m. on July 6, the Napa County Sheriff's Office and Napa County Fire Department requested the helicopter to help search for the biker. The 42-year-old man apparently became dehydrated and complained of cramping, abdominal pain and a possible seizure. He called for help on his cell phone.
After searching the area with the help of the phone contact, the man was located off a trail in steep terrain. Due to the remote location, the helicopter made a one-skid landing and dropped off a flight officer-paramedic. After refueling, the helicopter picked up the crewmember and victim. The man sustained mild exposure and was flown to a waiting ambulance.
Western Region Safety Seminar Heads to Wine Country
APSA's Western Region Safety Seminar will be held Sept. 3-5 in Napa, CA. A full educational agenda, which includes water survival training, and registration information is available atwww.alea.org/events.
The event will take place at the Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa, located in the heart of Napa Valley. Information about how to book your discounted room is also available on the APSA website. We look forward to raising a glass with you in Napa!